Canada
EXCLUSIVE - Homolka 'got away with it', Bernardo's dad says

Credits: QMI AGENCY

JOE WARMINGTON | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- As his sex-killer son settles into his new prison cell thanks to the pending closing of his old home, Paul Bernardo's father says in his opinion Karla Homolka should still be locked up behind bars, too.

In an exclusive interview with QMI Agency on the eve of Kingston Penitentiary shutting its doors after 179 years, Ken Bernardo said its not easy as a parent of such a notorious killer and understands "it's worse" for the families of those he was convicted of murdering.

RELATED: Canada's worst criminals ever housed at Kingston Pen

"It's harder on them and its terrible," he said from his Scarborough, Ont., home. "They have to live with it every day."

Ken Bernardo, who said his son receives daily threats on his life, says "naturally" he feels the pain of the suffering the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy go through.

It's a constant source of "distress," he said.

However, while his son is "doing his time like a man," it does irk him that his former wife, Karla Homolka, is free, living on the island of Guadalupe with a new husband and children, he said.

"As far as I am concerned Karla has got away with it and is free, but that is a whole other story," he said.

Karla testified as a witness for the Crown against Paul Bernardo in exchange for a 12-year prison sentence -- despite the attempt by Bernardo on the stand to convince the jury that while "responsible" for the deaths of French, Mahaffy and Homolka's sister Tammy, he did not actually commit the murders.

It was a contention rebuffed by the jury and Bernardo was found guilty of first-degree murder and also declared a dangerous offender.

But his father has always felt Karla got a better shake than she deserved.

It's the most vocal Ken Bernardo has been on the subject of his son's ex-wife in any of the half-dozen times I have spoken with him in the past 20 years.

But he has hinted before his disdain for the plea arrangement and accommodation she received in what was known as "The Deal with the Devil" and that he felt Karla was more involved with the homicides than the justice system made her pay for.

In 2004, when Toronto Police were looking at his son's movements as the "Scarborough rapist" and if he could have run across the vanished Elizabeth Bain, Ken Bernardo mocked the suggestion.

"It's not likely," Bernardo told me. "I think the fact that she (Karla Homolka) doesn't know anything about it tells me a lot."

There has never been any love lost between him, his wife Marilyn and Karla.

In fact, when I talked to them on the day their son was arrested in 1993, both spoke of a conflict they had with Karla over what would be served for supper at their 1991 wedding.

But Ken Bernardo said when he speaks with Paul these days, "We don't talk about the past. We just go on. What can you do about it?"

Over the years, he has refused interviews and never been friendly or inviting, but Ken Bernardo has also never been rude with me. He tries his best to answer the questions and, while always reluctant to speak, he has also been pointed, unfiltered and frank with his answers.

Ken, who himself has a sexual assault conviction on his record, has expressed to me in past conversations he will not walk away from his son, despite the evil acts.

And this week he said that and his wife Marilyn and the Bernardo siblings "do the best they can" to forge ahead, knowing how horrible Paul's heinous crimes were and how much destruction he caused.

"It is hard," he said of what has transpired.

He acknowledged last week a new chapter has started for the Bernardo family, thanks to the Government of Canada's decision to de-commission the Kingston Pen after housing Canada's most dangerous people since 1834.

After almost two decades of calling it home, the notorious school girl killer was transferred out of Kingston Pen for a new home to serve out his life sentence.

QMI Agency has learned from several Corrections Canada sources that new home is down the road 20 minutes at the maximum-security Millhaven Penitentiary.

Ken Bernardo confirmed the transfer.

"He was moved out a week ago with a bunch of others," he said.

There was discussion, he said, of moving him to Quebec to serve time at the same prison where Russell Williams was transferred.

But Paul Bernardo ended up in Millhaven.

Ken Bernardo said it will be a change for the family who had regularly visited their son at Kingston.

In fact, in some of those visits, he said, he met Williams' wife Mary-Elizabeth Harriman "a couple of times" and found her "to be a very classy lady" and unfairly tarnished in the media.

The senior Bernardo said he would have preferred the old prison remained operational.

"I don't know why they closed the Kingston Pen," he said. "They have a lot of inmates double-bunking at Millhaven now. "

But like before, he said, his son is not in general population, mostly for his own protection.

"There are threats on his life every day," he said.

He said his 49-year-old son will be housed in Millhaven similar to the way he was in Kingston -- in a small cell where he sits for 23 hours a day, with one hour for yard time.

"They have a segregation wing there at Millhaven," Ken said. "Paul did not have any say in it."

Although he plans to, he has not yet made his way down to Millhaven for a visit, he said.

"But I have talked to Paul on the phone and he's fine there," Ken said. "He knows he is serving his punishment. It's hard but he never complains."

Ken Bernardo said he has no knowledge of Paul applying to be reclassified and sent to a special housing unit in Bath, as I reported last month.

But it would be extra difficult for this to happen because of the enormous profile his son has.

The elder Bernardo feels because of the "media attention" his son is singled out more than others whose crimes are just as heinous.

However, he realizes it is what it is.

"At least he's still in Ontario and we will be able to see him from time to time," his father said.

And, he said, it's not lost on him the families of those whose lives his son and his former wife stole can no longer do that.

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