Law student gets house arrest in 'cult' abduction

The Hamilton Spectator/May 14, 2009

A law student who participated in a brazen daylight kidnapping was sentenced to 15 months house arrest yesterday after admitting to a bizarre plot to rescue a woman whose family feared she was being brainwashed by a religious cult.

Alan Honner of Toronto was handed a conditional sentence by Superior Court Justice Robert Reilly after pleading guilty on April 24 to kidnapping and forcible confinement.

The Osgoode Hall law student was granted permission by the judge to leave his house for one day next month in order to write his bar admission exams. Honner still faces an uphill battle, however, to convince the Law Society of Upper Canada that someone with his newly acquired but serious criminal record should be admitted to the bar.

As part of the negotiated plea deal, assistant Crown attorney Michael Fox withdrew a charge of forcible confinement against the convicted man's sister, Theresa Honner.

A conditional sentence means the married father of 11-month-old twins will now have a criminal record, but will be permitted to serve his sentence under house arrest and community supervision.

At the time of his plea, Reilly ordered a ban on publication of the facts and legal submissions heard in court in order to protect the fair trial of three co-accused. Dr. Renato Brun Del Re, 57, a Mississauga physician, and his son, Giancarlo Brun Del Re, 29, face one count each of forcible confinement and kidnapping.

The mother of the alleged kidnapping victim, Lucie Brun Del Re, 57, a Georgetown secondary school teacher, is charged with forcible confinement. A francophone, she has requested her trial be conducted in French.

At the centre of the high-profile kidnapping case is a charismatic church leader known as Pastor Peter Rigo, who founded the evangelical Dominion Christian Centre of Canada (DCC) on Park Street North in Hamilton.

Hamilton police charged the Brun Del Res after their daughter Mirella Brun Del Re, 26, was abducted off the street in late 2005 not far from the church and held at a secret location for 10 days before she escaped.

The Brun Del Res maintain the DCC is a religious cult and hired a Tennessee-based intervention consultant, Mary Alice Chrnalogar, in an effort to deprogram their daughter.

The kidnapping case grabbed national attention in 2006 when it was featured on W-Five, an investigative news program on CTV.

In February this year, the Canada Revenue Agency revoked the church's charitable status, citing serious issues of non-compliance and misuse of charitable funds.

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