Why a Kelowna baby-snatcher likely won't have a criminal record | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why a Kelowna baby-snatcher likely won't have a criminal record

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Giffen Nyren
July 23, 2019 - 1:43 PM

KELOWNA - A man who tried to forcefully take a baby from its mother’s arms on a Kelowna beach in April likely won’t have a criminal record after he was sentenced today.

Harold Giffen Clarkson Nyren was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. That means if he follows his conditions without fail, the charges will disappear from his record.

Judge Cathaline Heinrichs heard the 14-month-old baby’s family was taking pictures at Kerry Park in downtown Kelowna on April 28. The child's mother, who was holding him at the time, was approached by Nyren who then grabbed the infant’s head, turned it in order to see its face and began to pull on the infant's head, trying to take it away from Kendra. The child's father pushed Nyren back and Nyren, 30, removed his clothes and jumped into the Lake, swimming out to a log buoy.

Police attended on the scene and tried to get Nyren to come back to shore before arresting him.

The court heard that Nyren's toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis. Nyren spoke to the court and expressed his remorse, particularly to the suffering he caused the family of the infant. At his own request, Nyren will write a letter of apology to the parents of the child and participate in a restorative justice program.

The restorative justice program involves those affected by the offense, in this case the family of the child, coming together to discuss the circumstances with the restorative justice facilitator in order to have a structured dialogue. This dialogue helps those participating share how they were affected by the offence and what needs to happen in order to make things right.

A victim impact statement was submitted by the mother, Kendra, who has been suffering from insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, and trauma following the incident. This trauma caused Kendra to take time away from work, which resulted in a loss of income of $2,748. Additional costs were incurred for day care and altogether the cost of restitution is $4,648, which Nyren is required to pay as a part of his sentencing. Although the family is shaken by the incident, they informed the Crown Dave Ruse that they would be willing to accept an apology from Nyren.

By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he'd been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra.

Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player. Nyren, who's originally from Calgary, played for the Kamloops Blazers from 2008 to 2010. Dating back to 2005, he's played for teams in Calgary, Moose Jaw, Colorado, France and Italy. For the 2018-2019 season he played for Amiens in the French league.

Heinrichs explained to Nyren that the purpose of his sentencing was rehabilitation, as well as to deter future crimes. She took many factors into consideration in her sentencing, notably his lack of a criminal record, his remorse demonstrated by his guilty plea, and that by all accounts he is “a law abiding, contributing citizen.”

Court heard that during his probation Nyren will be required to take whatever medication is prescribed to him by his doctor, attend all counselling appointments as dictated by his parole officer and will be prohibited from consuming any drugs or alcohol.

Nyren expressed to Gray that he wishes to return to the University of Calgary, where he has three years of a bachelor degree, in order to complete his education. He also expressed an interest in pursuing volunteer work.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 801-9235 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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