Canada's 'symbol of evil' who helped husband kill girls is freed

Dodging waiting reporters, Homolka, 35, left a prison on the outskirts of Montreal on Monday. After her lawyers had unsuccessfully petitioned the courts to protect her from the press on her release, Ms Homolka drove directly to a television studio and gave an interview. Under a deal brokered with prosecutors at her 1993 trial, Homolka was found guilty of manslaughter and given a reduced sentence of 12 years after agreeing to testify against her former husband. She claimed she was a battered wife who had been forced to participate in the three killings.

The contrast between the depravity of the crimes and the brevity of the sentence continues to sit badly with many Canadians. Soon after the plea agreement, lawyers for her husband, Paul Bernado, handed over video tapes the couple made seemingly showing Homolka as a willing participant. At the trial in Toronto, the court was told Bernado and Homolka had kidnapped two teenage girls, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, then raped, sexually tortured and finally killed both. The case, with all of its vivid details of the crimes, challenged the innocence of Canada and its assumption at the time that crimes so heinous belonged south of the border, rather than in its own society.

Homolka was also convicted of the death in 1990 of her 15-year-old younger sister, Tammy, whom she had offered as a sexual gift to her husband. The girl suffocated on her vomit after the couple made her unconscious by placing a drug-soaked cloth over her mouth. Video images showed Homolka performing oral sex on her unconscious sister and her husband raping her.

In what may be a vain effort to hide from her infamy, Homolka has changed her name to Karla Teale and has declined to say where she will be living.

But she learnt French while in prison and has said she will make Quebec her home, claiming that the province is more tolerant than Ontario. In the interview on French-language television in Montreal, she repeated that she had acted under her husband's influence and asked that she be allowed to rebuild her life.

Noting that her first desire was to taste the cappuccino, she said: "I don't want to be hunted down. I don't want people to think I am dangerous and I'm going to do something to their children.

"What I did was terrible and I was in a situation where I was unable to see clearly, where I was unable to ask for help, where I was completely overwhelmed in my life and I regret it enormously because now I know I had the power to stop all that."

The families of the two teenage victims are shocked. Tim Danson, a lawyer for the French and Mahaffay families, said they were overwhelmed by the news that she was free. "They thought they had made the necessary mental and emotional adjustments to get ready for today, but when I gave them word that she'd been released, there was just stunned, painful silence," he said.

Jack Jadwab, executive director of the Association of Canadian Studies in Montreal, said: "People think she's cheated the system. A violent crime like this, publicised the way it is, represents to many Canadians a bit of a stain on our reputation for being a non-violent society."

Homolka has appealed against restrictions set on her freedom but the families of her victims said they have engaged lawyers to fight such a move.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence