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)

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

The Small Works display features work from local artists on wood panels. Panels are available at Ranger Station Art Gallery (File Photo)
Small Works submission deadline approaching

Ranger Station Art Gallery seeks local artists for upcoming display

Signs up at Hope Secondary School inform visitors that the school is a closed campus during the coronavirus pandemic. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Second COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School

Fraser Health website lists exposure on Nov. 11 and 12

New Chilliwack Chief Ray Fust.
Chilliwack Chief Ray Fust in the mix for Swiss U20 roster spot

Fust is hoping to make the team that will compete in the World Junior Hockey Championships

An employee at a Chilliwack McDonald’s location tested positive for COVID on Nov. 21 (File photo by The Associated Press)
Employee tests positive for COVID-19 at McDonald’s restaurant in Chilliwack

One case was detected at the Vedder Road location, which briefly closed its doors

Contributed graphic/District of Kent
Snow Angels seek volunteers

As winter is coming, volunteer shovelers are wanted

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read