By JOE FRIES
With a slight nod of his head and a quiet thank-you to the judge, Ronald Teneycke on Thursday turned and left a Penticton courtroom for what could be the last time.
The 55-year-old, known for years as the South Okanagan’s most notorious criminal, now faces the possibility of dying behind bars, after provincial court Judge Richard Hewson labelled him a dangerous offender and handed down an indefinite prison sentence.
“It’s the best-case scenario. He was given the harshest penalty available and it’s exactly what he deserves,” said Wayne Belleville, who was shot by Mr. Teneycke nearly three years ago.
“His 15 minutes of infamy are now over and I look forward to never hearing his name again.”
The judge’s decision brought to an end a seven-day sentencing hearing that spanned eight months last year, after Mr. Teneycke pleaded guilty to charges arising from a July 2015 crime spree in the Oliver area.
Mr. Teneycke admitted to robbing the Eastside Market at gunpoint, shooting Mr. Belleville in the back and stealing his truck, and triggering a police chase that ended in a hail of bullets in a Cawston orchard.
The offences are the last on a lengthy rap sheet that dates back to 1981 and includes dozens of prior convictions for robbery, assault, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, uttering threats and flight from police.
At the time of his final spree, Mr. Teneycke was on a three-year probation order that was handed down earlier that year after he pleaded guilty to possessing explosives.
During the dangerous-offender hearing, lead Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay set out to prove Mr. Teneycke is beyond help and that his indefinite incarceration is the only way to protect the public from him.
Defence counsel Michael Welsh conceded to the dangerous-offender designation, but instead suggested a regular prison sentence of 10 to 12 years, followed by a long-term supervision order in the range of five to seven years.
Mr. Welsh had argued that Mr. Teneycke, who self-identifies as Metis, had found new sources of stability in Indigenous art and spirituality, plus a rekindled relationship with one of his daughters.
Judge Hewson, however, found those to be “extremely thin” lifelines for a man who had “never show any serious commitment” to change in the past.
Instead, the judge said he was persuaded by experts witnesses called by the Crown, who testified Mr. Teneycke was only “superficially compliant” with past court orders and had benefitted “little, if any” from previous attempts to treat him.
“I can only conclude that Mr. Teneycke is not inhibited by normal standards of behavioural restraint so that future acts of violence can quite confidently be expected of him,” said Judge Hewson.
“Given the depth, breadth and difficulty of treatment challenges Mr. Teneycke is facing, I am satisfied that no conventional sentence alone could be sufficient to reduce Mr. Teneycke’s risk to the community to an acceptable level through treatment or other kinds of interventions,” the judge added later.
Judge Hewson noted Teneycke’s past attempts at rehabilitation had been hindered by his unwillingness to discuss his sexual offences and deal with his own “untreated trauma.”
Mr. Teneycke “was born of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her brother. His childhood was chaotic,” the judge said.
“As a young child, he suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse. One of his sisters was murdered, and he witnessed his stepfather commit suicide.”
Mr. Teneycke now suffers from a host of medical conditions, including lymphoma, hepatitis C, diabetes and a personality disorder.
He was married twice and has two daughters, who are now in their 30s.
Although his criminal record dates back to 1981, Teneycke gained notoriety in 2007, when police in the South Okanagan warned the public about his release from prison after completing a 12-year sentence for sexually assaulting a teenager and threatening to kill a probation officer.
As of 2012, there were just 488 dangerous offenders nationwide, 466 of them behind bars, according to the Correctional Service of Canada.
Even with an indeterminate sentence, Mr. Teneycke will be eligible for day parole in four years and full parole in seven years. However, he would have to convince the Parole Board of Canada that he can be safely released, and would then be placed under supervision in the community.
Joe Fries is a writer/editor at the Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and the Herald share an editorial services agreement.