29 August 2010

Second escape from police, accused faces two sexual interference charges

A man who escaped police custody on the Burin Peninsula for the second time in two years is facing two charges of sexual interference and two charges of breaching probation orders.

The Provincial Court docket for Grand Bank shows that Andrew Kenneth Parsons is due back in court on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 for election and/or plea.  Parsons was remanded in custody last week.

But he won’t make that court date unless police can get him back in custody.

There’s no word on how Parsons managed to escape. This is the second time in as many years that Parsons did a runner from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Marystown.

Media reports on the escape don’t give any indication of why police had Parsons in the nick. The Telegram quotes unnamed police sources as saying that Parsons is scheduled to appear on “a number of serious criminal offences.”

Nor do the local media reports have much else to say beyond giving Parsons’ physical description.

According to vocm.com, police said that Andrew Parsons is “not a threat to the public.” 

The Telly appears to have also gotten the same line on safety from police:

Parsons is not considered dangerous but the police said because of the nature of his charges, “there is a definite need for public concern.”

- srbp -

Update:  Kudos to Glen Payette of CBC’s Here and Now for adding way more details to this story on a whole bunch of levels.  CBC Radio Noon got the details of the escape by interviewing the CBC division media relations officer.  Payette did the same thing, but he also added the guy’s crim record and – for the first time today – someone other than your humble e-scribbler reported what the guy’s been charged with.

A big part of this story, though, has been the bizarre approach B Division took to this escape and the news release.  For some unknown reason, they refused to say what the guy was charged with. 

CBC Radio Noon host Ramona Deering started the interview with the straightforward question of why the guy was in custody.  Media relations officer Staff Sergeant Boyd Merrill ducked the question referring only to the guy having been remanded in custody pending another court date on charges Merrill obviously wasn’t going to talk about.

Maybe they are sensitive about the escape.


Well, if that’s the case, then the little darlings can get over that one pretty quick.  If you are going to traipse through the words looking for marijuana plants in some grow-op near St. John’s then you can suck it up and talk about a more embarrassing moment.

Sound media relations practice for organizations like the police is built on simple ‘just the facts’ story telling using – we can only hope – plain English instead of CopSpeak.   Ducking obvious questions or dancing around issues that are apparently quite simple (even if a wee bit embarrassing) just aren’t part of a good MR practice. 

And hey, reporting every possible tip or lead as if each was credible doesn’t balance out the credibility ledger.  At some point, people will start to wonder whether or not this guy is doing a third-rate send up of the Scarlet Pimpernel:  “They seek him here.  They seek him there.”