Fake ID can easily fool officialdom

Concerns raised over use of alias names in Victoria parental abduction case

  • Dec. 8, 2011 6:00 p.m.

When news broke last week that Victoria police had arrested a woman for abducting her baby daughter 18 years ago, there was no one more shocked than Greater Victoria school district superintendent John Gaiptman.

The idea that the woman – a former president of Victoria High School’s parent advisory council – and her daughter – a Vic High graduate – were going by aliases seemed unfathomable.

Patricia O’Byrne, who police say was living in Victoria for a number of years as Pam Whalen, is now in Toronto, facing one charge of abduction in violation of a custody order, dating back to 1993.

O’Byrne and Joe Chisholm had just been granted joint custody, when O’Byrne allegedly left Toronto with their 20-month-old.

On Wednesday, the judge in the case placed a publication ban on the daughter’s name.

O’Byrne’s motive for going to “such extraordinary lengths” is still a mystery, but will likely come to light at trial, said Det.-Sgt. Dean Burks, who oversees the Toronto police youth and family services investigation unit, which is leading the case.

As well as investigating those who may have aided and abetted O’Byrne over the years, detectives will likely levy additional charges against O’Byrne in the next two weeks related to impersonation or identity fraud, forgery and obtaining government documents in assumed names.

“It’s certainly not a groundbreaking revelation that she was able to do it,” Burks said.

“Once you can get one piece of government identification, everything else will fall into place,” he added.

Detectives say they don’t yet know if O’Byrne stole her cover identity, and that of her daughter, or whether she created them.

Regardless, her alternate identity was strong enough that she worked in public affairs for the provincial government, from 2004 until May 2011.

But O’Byrne’s daughter learned of the deception on her own “in the not too distant past” and confronted her mother about her abduction, Burks said. “When (investigators and counsellors) met with her last week and informed her what had taken place, she wasn’t surprised.”

The daughter didn’t go to police, however. Rather, an anonymous tipster told the Missing Children Society of Canada in September that O’Byrne was living on the Island as Pamela Whalen. In early October, Toronto investigators called Saanich police, who connected O’Byrne to a Victoria address.

VicPD was called in to conduct surveillance to verify the woman’s identity, before her arrest last Thursday at her Fernwood home.

The case has left educators in the Greater Victoria school district struggling for answers to difficult questions about the use of false identities.

“When the news first broke, I went and reviewed the information (on file) and as I’m looking at (the young woman’s photocopied) passport I’m thinking there has to be a mistake,” said Gaiptman, who has never known a case like it in his 30 years as an educator, including 11 as School District 61’s superintendent of schools.

All it took for O’Byrne to enrol her daughter at Vic High was proof of residence and a birth certificate, which Gaiptman said was authentic.

After graduating in 2009, O’Byrne’s daughter used her passport a few months later to re-enroll in a continuing education program at S.J. Willis to upgrade marks in two courses.

“Given the amount of custodial issues out there we want to see the birth certificate,” Gaiptman said. “Having said that, this was somebody that provided us with the government documents and as it turned out they were incorrect.”

Gaiptman said he doesn’t know what more the educational system could have done when the teen was initially enrolled in school.

“Is there any way, as the attending school, we could have caught it?” he wondered.

The answer is no, Burks said.

“I don’t think the school boards or anybody could have done any more,” the 25-year police veteran said.

 

“You have to take people (such as parents) at their word. You can’t create an air of paranoia, that people are automatically going to be showing up and having kids enrolled in school under false names.”

 

 

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

Just Posted

CRD to consider plan for mountain biking trails at Mount Work

SIMBS seek new trails in Hartland, Partridge Hills

Oak Bay clinic opens virtual classes to public for fundraiser

Patient activity is up for cancer-supporting clinic during COVID-19 crisis

More than 1,500 people expected at Victoria peace rally for Black lives

‘To speak up, all you need is a voice and the will to be heard’

Greater Victoria transit usage sees gradual rise

Ridership still down 66 per cent compared to last year

Name of victims ‘ripped down’ from Victoria display

Organizers feel the act is ‘malicious’

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read