TORONTO - Paul Bernardo's designs on an early release from prison wouldn't stand a "cat in hell's chance" if the 12 men and women who originally convicted him in 1995 had any say in the matter, a former juror from the killer's trial said Thursday.
With transcripts of a police interview showing Bernardo hopes to one day use the so-called faint-hope clause to win his release, the families of his victims are once again faced with the terrifying prospect of him being freed.
The lawyer for the families said he's assured them the only way Bernardo is leaving Kingston Penitentiary is in a "pine box."
The court documents, made public in the wake of Robert Baltovich's acquittal in the Elizabeth Bain murder, detail an April 2006 interview in which Bernardo, now 43, said he was rehabilitated and would appeal to a "jury of my peers" to be released before the end of his mandatory 25-year sentence.
Eric Broadhurst, a juror at Bernardo's 1995 trial, said he's confident that no jury of average people - who he said Bernardo shouldn't think of as his "peers" - would even briefly consider releasing him.
"If it were the jury that I was a part of that convicted him, he wouldn't stand a cat in hell's chance," said Broadhurst, 72, a retiree who lives in Waterloo, Ont.
"I just have to think that any jury would see through his flim-flam. He just simply does not deserve to come out of where he is - ever - and he should die in jail."
No jury would ever believe that Bernardo has truly changed and deserves to walk the streets again, said lawyer Tim Danson, who represents the families of teenagers Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, who were kidnapped, viciously sexually assaulted and murdered by Bernardo.
"Mr. Bernardo will never, ever, be paroled and the only way in which he will be leaving prison is in a pine box," Danson said.
"It is understood that Paul Bernardo is a very, very dangerous psychopath and sexual predator, that he is an extremely disturbed and sick individual and he is beyond rehabilitation."
Following Baltovich's acquittal Tuesday, his lawyer James Lockyer pointed the finger at Bernardo as Bain's possible killer. Bernardo denied killing Bain during a 2007 police interview.
Several media outlets will make a motion before the court to have video of that interview released to the public.
Broadhurst said his first encounter with Bernardo was one of his "life-defining moments." The discomfort he felt when he first locked eyes with the killer grew into hatred after he heard the details of what Bernardo did to his victims.
"For a little minute, which felt like a half an hour, Paul Bernardo's blue steely eyes are staring right at me, and my eyes are staring right at him, and that was a very, very bone-chilling moment," Broadhurst recalled.
"(Bernardo is) just a disgusting, vile, horrible individual. He's not even a human being."
Bernardo's lawyer Tony Bryant said his client is currently eligible to make a faint-hope petition, although he's not aware of any imminent plans to do so.
"I can't comment (on whether Bernardo is still seeking early release) because I don't know," he said.
Transcripts of Bernardo's jailhouse interview detail his hopes to use the Criminal Code's faint-hope clause to try to get parole.
"I'm going to throw it to a jury of my peers, throw it to the Canadian people," Bernardo told police. "You know I can't change the past, you know all I can do is change myself and I tried to do that."
The justice system can't afford to give Bernardo another chance, and doing so would certainly end in tragedy, Danson said.
"If anyone ever put Paul Bernardo back out on the street, you might as well prepare a death warrant, and all that's left is to wait to fill in the name of his next victim," he said.
University of Toronto law professor and defence lawyer Peter Rosenthal agreed that the odds of Bernardo being released are "very, very small."
"It's virtually impossible," he said, adding the only chance Bernardo might have is decades from now as an old man, but even then, the public will not have forgotten what he did.
"With the modern era of communications, any time he would seek parole I think (his record) would come back to haunt," Rosenthal said.
"The extent of his crimes was so huge and the nature of them so grotesque that it seems inconceivable that he'd ever be allowed out on parole."
Bernardo is "where he should be," said Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley.
"He was convicted, he was sentenced," Bentley said.
"The Crown fought the case very hard and will resist any attempts for him to be released early."
In addition to his 25-year sentence, Bernardo was also declared a dangerous offender, which means he will be in jail indefinitely and almost certainly remain there for life.