(VANCOUVER) The double murders of Sherry Heron and Anna Adams on May 20, 2003 by Bryan Bruce Heron are an example of the heightened danger that women now face as a result of sweeping changes to the Provincial Government’s policy on wife assault. The changes that now discourage crown counsels from prosecuting cases of wife assault in favour of diversion to counseling or restraining orders, were announced a scant few weeks before Bryan Bruce Heron, under a restraining order, entered Sherry Heron’s hospital room to kill her and her mother.
“We warned Premier Gordon Campbell against making these changes in policy and attitude towards violence against women,” says Pauline Funston, a longtime worker at Vancouver Rape Relief. “This change in attitude at such a high level of government is very dangerous for women. These murders are not freak accidents, they were preventable. Both the police and hospital could have effectively protected Sherry Heron and Alice Adams.”
Mission RCMP knew that Bryan Bruce Heron had guns. However, the RCMP made no move to confiscate Heron’s guns or co-ordinate with the hospital to move Sherry Heron to a different hospital room.
Funston notes that the restraining order was attached to Sharon Heron’s chart at the foot of her bed, “a more logical and effective place for such a document is at the hospital entrance along with a photo of the man. Security and police could have stopped him rather than putting nurses in such an untenable position.”
“Sharon Heron was like any other woman faced with a potentially violent husband,” says Funston, “the institutions that she was told to depend on for safety, the RCMP and the hospital abandoned Sherry Heron and her family to deal with Bryan Bruce Heron on their own.” Funston asserts that by gutting the wife assault policy, Premier Campbell also abandoned Sharon Heron and her mother.
Funston is preparing to meet with other transition workers across the province to discuss the Heron case, the wife assault policy and the dangerous combination of massive cuts to welfare, legal aid and women’s advocacy centres.
Contact: Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter, Suzanne Jay, Phone (604) 872-8212