Newfoundland judge refuses peace bond for man acquitted as ‘sleepwatcher’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland judge ruled Tuesday a man once suspected of being the notorious Halifax “sleepwatcher” will not have to obey a rare peace bond sought by police who fear the convicted burglar will reoffend.

Barry Sinclair, 56, was acquitted of charges related to a man who allegedly broke into homes to watch women sleep but was sentenced to five years for a separate break-in.

He moved to St. John’s, N.L., after serving that sentence, where he has been under intense police surveillance for the last 15 months. That scrutiny along with curfews were part of unusually strict interim conditions imposed as the peace bond application played out.

Sinclair’s lawyer, Ellen O’Gorman, said Tuesday her client did not reoffend despite the added stress of those ”very difficult” requirements. He can now live where and how he chooses within the law.

“He has served his time,” she said in an interview. “He has paid the debt that he had to his victims and to society, and he’s free to do what everyone who does that has the right to do, which is live their lives and be left alone.”

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary went to provincial court in February 2017 asking for a peace bond against Sinclair to avoid what police argued is the potential for an imminent personal injury offence.

Judge Mike Madden said Tuesday that Sinclair has a lengthy criminal record but has not had a sexual assault conviction since the 1980s. Sinclair was convicted in 1984 for indecent exposure and in 1987 for sexual assault, court heard.

He was also caught in 2007 peeking at a child in a Halifax bathroom and, while incarcerated, at female corrections staff in washrooms. Other convictions in the 2000s include theft and criminal harassment.

Still, Madden said he must assess if the Crown objectively established that Sinclair poses an imminent risk of committing a personal injury offence.

Madden said the last break-in for which Sinclair was convicted was not voyeuristic on the facts.

The judge cited the latest correctional service reports, describing them as “cautiously positive.”

Sinclair completed federal sex offender and community programming, Madden said.

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