Bernardo confessed to sex-crime Ontario man was convicted for

Bitter 40-year-old roofer seeks vindication from court of appeal, and compensation


From Friday's Globe and Mail

June 20, 2008 at 2:38 AM EDT

Nearly 20 years after he was convicted of a knifepoint sex attack that serial killer Paul Bernardo has now confessed to perpetrating, Ontario labourer Anthony Hanemaayer will ask the Ontario Court of Appeal next Wednesday to restore his innocence.

In an exclusive interview, the 40-year-old roofer expressed anger that Toronto police failed to tell him Mr. Bernardo had confessed when they approached him "out of the blue" in 2006 to test his recollection of the case.

Mr. Hanemaayer remained in the dark about Mr. Bernardo's confession until lawyers from the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted - which learned of his case and decided to take it on - contacted him earlier this year.

In documents filed with the Ontario Court of Appeal yesterday, Mr. Hanemaayer says the case against him was built entirely on an erroneous eyewitness identification made by the mother of the 15-year-old complainant during a fleeting, predawn encounter on the night of the attack.

"I've seen pictures of him, and I don't think I look anything like that creep," Mr. Hanemaayer said in an interview. "To this day, whenever I see Paul Bernardo's name, I get in a weird mood. I hate to think that I'm even remotely associated with him. That guy scrambled my life up unbelievably. It is painful. Painful."

Midway through his 1989 trial, Mr. Hanemaayer succumbed to his fear of being convicted and given a heavy prison sentence. In return for pleading guilty, he was given a sentence of two years less a day.

While the Crown has not yet indicated its position, Mr. Bernardo's confession is likely to put it under strong pressure to concede that Mr. Hanemaayer was wrongly convicted.

A legal brief filed by Mr. Hanemaayer's lawyer, James Lockyer, also states that two Toronto police officers who interviewed Mr. Bernardo in 2006 concluded he was telling the truth.

They were impressed by Mr. Bernardo's detailed knowledge of the location and layout of the victim's home, her age and physical description, and his encounter with her mother.

Mr. Hanemaayer said he was also jolted to learn recently that Mr. Bernardo had lived just two blocks away from the complainant's home, and that a violent rape of a 15-year-old girl took place just two days prior to his arrest a very short distance away.

Mr. Hanemaayer said it is unforgivable that police did not reconsider the charge against him in light of the probability that a serial rapist was on the loose in the area.

His case will likely go down as a classic illustration of the frailties of eyewitness identification, a form of evidence that many in the justice system condemn as being particularly prone to error.

The problem began with a statement from the complainant's mother, who told of discovering the attacker straddling her daughter on her waterbed at 5:10 a.m. on Sept. 29, 1987.

The mother said that she and the assailant stared at one another for a full 45 seconds before he suddenly leapt up, "raised his arms up in the air and roared at me like a lion." The assailant then fled.

Acting on a hunch, the mother immediately approached a construction company that was doing work nearby. She gave a description of the attacker - young, brown hair, baby face, piercing eyes; small ears - to an office worker at the company. The employee suggested that it might fit Mr. Hanemaayer.

The girl's mother forwarded the information to the police. After investigators had obtained a photograph of Mr. Hanemaayer, the mother selected it from a photo lineup.

She firmly rejected a police suggestion that a man who had become known as the Scarborough rapist might have been responsible, since she did not view it as being in keeping with his modus operandi.

Two months after the attack, police went to the apartment Mr. Hanemaayer shared with his wife in the Toronto-area community of Newmarket. They charged him with breaking and entering, and assault. "My wife looked at me, and said, 'That's impossible; he was with me,' " Mr. Hanemaayer recalled in the interview.

"Other than that, they had nothing. To me, they didn't do their job. It was bullshit."

In his legal brief, Mr. Lockyer slams the photo lineup as being unscientific, misleading and inadequately documented. He also dismisses the value of a witness identification that was made in the near dark, "under extraordinarily stressful conditions."

On the second day of his trial in late 1989, a badly rattled Mr. Hanemaayer decided to accept the Crown's offer of a plea bargain. "In that courtroom, I was guilty unless I could somehow prove to them that I was innocent. I lost all faith in the justice system."

He said the turning point was the mother's testimony, which came off as firm, decisive and compelling. He and his lawyer felt that his conviction - and the probability of a penitentiary sentence in the six-year range - was a foregone conclusion, he said.

"I had never done any big time. I didn't like it in jail; you have got to watch your back 24/7. But they told me that a federal pen is worse. My lawyer had me shaken. He said: 'If you go to the pen, either you are not going to survive, or you are going to get in a lot of fights.' "

Mr. Hanemaayer said his marriage broke up soon afterward from the stress the accusation against him caused.

"There were many, many nights that I just couldn't sleep. Even now, I'm still going through mental stress because this is bringing it all back. I want to have my name cleared and some kind of compensation for mental stress."