A few Metchosin residents are speaking out after the William Head prison escapees from July 2019 have been charged with the first-degree murder of Martin Payne, 60. (Martin Payne/Facebook)

One year after prison escape, Greater Victoria residents still don’t feel safe

‘I don’t want to constantly have to be on guard,’ residents react to murder charges

Tanya Young still thinks she hears noises outside her Metchosin home in the wee morning hours.

It’s only been a few days since West Shore RCMP officially charged William Head’s prison escapees with the murder of 60-year-old Martin Payne, but it’s been nearly a year since Young has felt completely safe in her community.

Occasionally, she checks the security cameras she and her husband installed to make sure there’s nothing to worry about at night, but safety is an utmost concern for the mother of two. She’s also bought floodlights for the property.

“We had just moved into our forever home with our toddler and baby,” said Young, who moved to Metchosin a month before the prison escape. “[When] the police came to our home to ask questions we were completely freaked. With it being so close to home it was frightening.”

RELATED: William Head prison escapees charged in homicide of Metchosin man

On June 13, police announced the charges of first-degree murder against James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage.

Busch, who was 42 at the time, and Armitage, who was 30, broke out of the prison in the early evening of July 7, 2019, according to Correctional Services Canada.

The escapees were found two days later after commenting on an off-duty Mountie’s dog in Esquimalt. At the time of escape, Busch was serving a sentence for second-degree murder and assault and had previously served time for aggravated sexual assault and escaping custody.

Armitage was serving a 13-year, 10-month sentence for robbery, aggravated assault and other offences.

ALSO READ: Months after inmates escape Metchosin prison, community still wants answers

On July 12, four days after the inmates were found, West Shore RCMP found Martin Payne’s body inside his home after he failed to show up for work. His death was considered suspicious and most residents in the area voiced their concerns due to the fact that they weren’t notified of the escape until nearly 12 hours later over Facebook.

Though the head of Correctional Service Canada said security at the minimum-security facility has improved and has expressed her “deepest sympathies” to Payne’s family, some residents are hesitant to trust again.

“The real tragedy is that a sweet and kind man lost his life,” said Paula Leweke, a Metchosin resident for the past 11 years. “I believe the whole situation was totally mismanaged.”

Cid Lang, a resident since July 2019, said one of the biggest reasons she moved to Metchosin was to get away from a federal prison she felt unsafe living nearby in California.

“I thought the biggest issues we had to worry about were bears and cougars,” Lang quipped. “I love this community so much and I didn’t want to constantly have to be on guard, but now I feel afraid.”

READ MORE: Head of Canadian prison agency expresses ‘deepest sympathies’ in death of Metchosin man

While Shari Rourke believes the escape and following murder was tragic, she doesn’t expect it to happen again.

“I 100 per cent feel safe in my neighbourhood,” said the resident who grew up in the Mary Hill area, a former range and training area for Canadian Forces Esquimalt right across from the prison. Now, she lives near Pedder Bay.

“As long as the prison has the opportunity to ensure that dangerous felons with a high risk to re-offend are not placed in it, we do not need to worry.”

At the end of September 2019, it was revealed in court that a Correctional Services Canada analysis deemed Armitage fit for a medium-security institution but that an override was recommended and he was moved to William Head in April 2018.

– with files from Shalu Mehta


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

District of Metchosinprison

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley Health Care Auxiliary reopens thrift shops

Kimberley and Marysville locations now open

Birthday wishes come true as Kimberley girl reunited with her cat

Cat was missing for a month, reunited with owners because SPCA was able to trace microchip

Gray Creek Pass now open

The Gray Creek Pass is now open again, after a new bridge… Continue reading

Cranbrook RCMP looking for vehicle, driver involved in hit and run

RCMP are looking for the owner of a white Toyota Corolla that fled the scene

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read