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Suspect in Brenda Ware's homicide had history of violence

Philip Toner was deemed at risk to reoffend after serving five-year sentence
MVT Philip Toner 1
Philip Toner, 41, was arrested and charged following the discovery of Brenda Ware's body in Kootenay National Park. Photo courtesy of B.C. RCMP

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — The man charged in the homicide of Brenda Ware has a history of violent behaviour and domestic abuse, according to an 11-page Parole Board of Canada document obtained by The Albertan.

Throughout the course of serving a recently completed five-year sentence in a federal institution after being convicted of sexually assaulting a female minor, Philip Toner, now 41, had his statutory release revoked three times.

A statutory release is granted to convicts who have served two-thirds of their sentence and provides offenders with an opportunity to begin re-integrating into society under conditions outlined by a parole board review.

The third and last time his statutory release was revoked was last December, when the parole board determined that any positive progress he had made was outweighed by “very serious concerns.”

Among the factors considered by the board in its decision to revoke his statutory release was “a history of violence” as well as an inability to manage not only serious emotional outbursts, but also a substance misuse problem that fuelled criminal behaviour including uttering threats, possession of a weapon, assault, criminal harassment, assault with a weapon and failure to comply with conditions.

The sexual assault took place in April 2015, when Toner was according to the documents providing and doing drugs with a family member and the minor throughout a three-day period. Agreeing to drive the victim to another location after being asked, Toner instead stopped the vehicle in an isolated area to do drugs.

According to the documents, when the minor rejected his sexual advances, Toner plied her with more drugs until she was too intoxicated to resist and then proceeded to rape her. The victim later called a parent, who brought her to a hospital.

He was also considered to pose a moderate risk of violence against a spouse or others, as well as a moderate to high risk for sexual recidivism, the parole board said. Additionally, his files report he had been assessed to have a moderate need for intervention in the area of mental health.  

Yet despite being deemed potentially at risk of re-offending, Toner was eventually released on March 29 after completing a five-year and four-month sentence for uttering threat to cause harm/death, theft under $5,000, three counts of failure to comply with conditions, and sexual assault. 

“As this offender is not currently serving a federal term of imprisonment, he is no longer under the authority of the Parole Board of Canada,” reads correspondence received from the board.

Barely more than a month after being released, Toner was back in police custody after an RCMP investigation into the suspicious death of Ware — whose body was discovered northeast of Radium, B.C. in Kootenay National Park — led police to charge him with second degree murder.

The accused was scheduled to appear in Didsbury court on Monday, May 31, but an update on the proceedings was not available prior to press deadline.

An informal celebration of life in memory of Ware was recently held at the Greenwood Campground’s community gazebo in Sundre.

The Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act, also known as Clare’s Law, was recently passed by the provincial government. Bill 17 will allow individuals who are concerned about their safety in a relationship to access their partner’s criminal records to determine whether they have an abusive or violent past.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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