He’s a career criminal accused by Winnipeg police of becoming a city serial killer and bringing tragic ends to the lives of three young Manitoba women.
And today, many — including the union representing front-line Winnipeg police officers — are scratching their heads over why Shawn Cameron Lamb’s last jail term was cut short by six months — a decision that returned him to public life well before his debt to society was paid off.
“Could it be that these young ladies have paid the ultimate price for a system that doesn’t work?,” Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland wondered Tuesday.
A provincial spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that Lamb, 52, was last freed from provincial jail on June 24, 2011 — 13 months after a judge ordered him to serve 19 additional months behind bars as punishment for a slew of offences, including two violent robberies.
As well, corrections officials allowed 13 remaining months of a conditional sentence order Lamb received on Jan. 16, 2009 for an attempted mugging to expire while in custody.
That decision was made despite Judge Linda Giesbrecht’s specific ruling that the penalty was to resume only after Lamb’s release from lockup.
If Lamb — who has amassed more than 100 convictions including court-order, parole and statutory release breaches — had served the entire 19 months behind bars, he would have been freed around last Christmas and then bound by the stringent conditions of the conditional jail term for about another full year.
Lamb was arrested while in custody Sunday and accused of three counts of second-degree murder in connection to the deaths of Tanya Nepinak on Sept. 13, 2011, Carolyn Sinclair on Dec. 18, 2011 and Lorna Blacksmith on Jan. 11. He is presumed innocent.
Sutherland said police have long questioned what he termed are “incredibly generous” early-release provisions even chronic criminals appear to benefit from.
It is common in both the federal and provincial corrections systems to grant inmates “earned remission.” Justice sources said Tuesday that typically translates into an automatic one-third reduction in what was ordered by the courts, regardless of an inmate’s background or history of criminal activity.
“Protection of the public just does not seem to be a top priority,” Sutherland said.
Progressive Conservative Justice Critic Kelvin Goertzen said he reacted with “shock, outrage and disgust,” upon hearing Lamb had been granted “earned remission” — or early release — given his lengthy record.
Goertzen called on the province to move toward an “earned” early-release system where inmates must demonstrate they have taken concrete steps to correct their offending behaviour.
“It seems that in this case and a lot of other cases, there’s just an assumption that an offender should be released early,” Goertzen said.
Justice minister Andrew Swan declined to discuss specifics.
“I’m not going to speculate on any particular details of the case,” he said. “The issue right now is making sure we stand with the families and the communities — and the issue as well is not getting in the way of the criminal investigation,” he said.
Lamb is also charged with two sexual assaults, one involving a teen girl allegedly taking place last October and the other, involving a 36-year-old woman, taking place last week.
He remains in custody and has not applied for bail. His next court appearance is July 6.
CATCH AND RELEASE
Jan. 16, 2009: Lamb is handed an 18-month conditional sentence by Judge Wanda Garreck for attempted robbery.
April 5, 2009: Lamb is rearrested on a slew of new charges. The clock on his conditional sentence order (CSO) stops ticking, leaving about 14 months on it left to serve.
May 26, 2010: Lamb is sentenced to serve 19 more months for robberies by Judge Linda Giesbrecht. A judge orders the many months left on his CSO to start up again only after he’s released from jail.
June 24, 2011: Lamb gains early release from a provincial jail.
Sept. 13, 2011: The date police allege Tanya Nepinak is killed.
October 23-30, 2011: Lamb is out of custody and allegedly sexually assaults a vulnerable teen runaway.
Dec. 18, 2011: The date police allege Carolyn Sinclair is killed.
Jan. 11, 2012: The date police allege Lorna Blacksmith is killed.
Feb. 26, 2012: Lamb is arrested and accused of breaching his probation order.
Feb. 27, 2012: Lamb is released on conditions approved by a judicial justice of the peace.
April 17, 2012: Lamb is arrested and accused of the October 2011 sexual assault. Police release him on a promise to appear in court.
May 28, 2012: Lamb makes his first appearance on the sexual assault charge.
June 22, 2012: Lamb is arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 36-year-old mother and held in custody.
June 24, 2012: Lamb is arrested for three counts of second-degree murder.
June 26, 2012: Lamb makes a routine court appearance.