Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Poor little Lamb

Tragically, this self-centered con-man fooled us one two many times

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When it comes to considering Shawn Cameron Lamb, at the end of the day you're really stuck with two choices.

The first is likely easier to swallow for those who just want to accept the fact Lamb's now stuck in jail for a considerable amount of time and move on. That he's where he should and is meant to be. You can stop reading now.

The second requires more consideration of the sad realization that you've been had.

That for the umpteenth time, Lamb has somehow managed to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

Lamb is a cunning, self-centred druggie who has made a career of milking breaks from the justice system. As you'll see, sometimes those breaks came automatically.

You can't trust a single word out of this repeat con-man's mouth. He should never have been out of jail to kill these women.

I say all this not out of some bloodthirsty "hang 'em high" sentiment, but enough is enough.

The disgust for me piles up when one examines where Lamb is today against what he said prior to being (apparently falsely) branded a "serial killer" when charged in June 2012 of not one but three murders of vulnerable city women.

One needs only to review the grim facts of how he brutally killed, first, Carolyn Sinclair, because she dared snatch up his remaining couple rocks of crack. And then -- mere weeks later -- Lorna Blacksmith, also in a drug-related dispute in the same government-funded apartment he used for both killings.

After strangling these women, Lamb carefully wrapped them in plastic and dumped them like trash, leaving them to rot.

Now, apparently, he's some sort of hero in his own mind because he confessed to police months later and chose not to retract what he said even though there was a chance his confession might get tossed at trial and the case would collapse. Whatever.

I ruminate on the grim facts of how these women died.

And then I think back to May 26, 2010, when Lamb was yet again before a court for sentencing, saying all the right things in just the right way to get yet another break.

This time it was on charges including two counts of robbery with violence. One of his victims was a 69-year-old senior citizen who was injured when he snatched her purse. At the time, he was at large in public while serving a conditional sentence -- the product of yet another systemic break he was given just months earlier.

"Instead of just coming and saying, 'Well I plead guilty, uh, send me to jail and I'll get back out and I'll do it again' -- I don't want to do it again. I don't want to hurt anybody anymore. I don't want to hurt myself anymore," he said. "I don't want to reoffend. I don't want to hurt anybody else. I don't want to spend any more time in jail."

This particular hearing was interesting. Not only because it absolutely calls the remorse Lamb professed in court this week into serious question, but also because the systemic breaks just kept on coming for him, despite his 100-conviction strong and decades-long criminal history spanning three provinces.

On that day, the following deal was struck between the lawyers and ordered by the court:

Lamb would serve 19 months more of real jail and after that, the remainder of the prior conditional sentence he was serving would kick in.

There was more than a year left on the conditional term, meaning he'd be subject to a stringent curfew, mandatory counselling and rehabilitation, community-service provisions and an absolute abstention from drugs and alcohol. After that was a three-year period of "supervised" probation.

One must remember this: The prior help he had been offered to straighten him out -- as he said he wanted -- had failed.

Essentially, what the May 2010 deal aimed to achieve was to keep Lamb under maximum supervision in the public for as long as possible. Instead -- and despite his horrendous criminal and track record -- Lamb's jail sentence was cut short and his conditional term allowed to run down while in custody.

It was completely against what Judge Linda Giesbrecht had ordered. More breaks for the poor little Lamb.

So he leaves jail early and is accepted into a government-funded program that helps him find housing. The court and other records show for a little while he was "overjoyed" with his circumstances, to which he had adapted with "only relatively minor difficulties" -- ones which aren't spelled out.

But not long after, Lamb was having trouble with his new landlord, who wanted him out. By Dec. 18, he had killed Ms. Sinclair in a drug-fuelled rage. Ms. Blacksmith's homicide followed just a few weeks later.

A few days before he implicated himself in the killings of Sinclair and Blacksmith, Lamb had just come back from a trip to Ontario and told a psychologist he felt "at peace." The psychologist noted he appeared, "happy, optimistic, becoming more forward-focused."

Then came his high-profile arrest, which to some degree brought into the light some problems Lamb's case -- seen as a whole -- presents.

More than a year later he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter because the Crown couldn't make the murder allegations stick. Another deal was struck.

Justice Rick Saull heard much the same sad spiel about Lamb's tragic background and personal troubles as his fellow judges had in the past.

"Many, many people who have met me, who I was involved with in the community -- they know what I am, myself, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that I'm a good person. I just have trouble believing that myself and that's just an issue that's been ongoing since childhood," Lamb told the judge.

"And yet I do see it now that I am a totally different person, and under the influence of drugs and alcohol... I turn into a monster at times. And I think all drug addicts will relate to that. And I understand that the onus is on me, not the corrections or the courts to deal with my issues."

I ask you to rewind again to May 2010. And consider his words to Judge Giesbrecht, in a sentencing hearing where his drug problems were writ large.

"I am now in control of what I do. I know now what made me do the things I do... I've increased my knowledge and understanding of responsibility," Lamb said. "That helps me in a way that I won't reoffend. I feel good about myself."

Sadly, we now know better than ever how much trust to place on what Lamb says. We were had.

The cost for us to fully grasp this knowledge? The lives of Ms. Sinclair and Ms. Blacksmith. It sickens me.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 17, 2013 A1

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