Sex offender lands in Whalley

BC Corrections warns James William Conway is considered a high risk for reoffending.

High-risk sex offender James William Conway has moved to Whalley.

A high-risk sex offender who came to Surrey this week has settled in Whalley, The Leader has learned.

BC Corrections issued a warning on Monday (Feb. 9) that 40-year-old James William Conway had been released and was planning to move to Surrey.

The Leader has since learned from a reliable source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that Conway is located in Whalley.

Surrey RCMP know his exact address, but the source would not provide that level of detail to The Leader.

His offenses include sexual contact with a minor.

“Conway has a criminal history which includes sexual interference of (a) person under 16, sexual assault, arson, damaging property, fail to comply with disposition and breach of recognizance,” BC Corrections said in a release.

“He has maintained a versatile pattern of sexual offending against female children in a predatory and opportunistic manner.”

Conway is described as 6’4″, weighing 276 pounds. He is Caucasian with brown hair and blue eyes.

Longtime Whalley resident Lucy Matich said Conway’s relocation there becomes just one more thing for the embattled community to manage.

“I can’t believe he is in our neighbourhood,” Matich said Thursday, adding it makes local residents think they have to watch their backs all the time. “It’s just added stress to your day.”

Matich is a member of several community groups, including Block Watch, and tries to stay involved.

She says she no longer knows what else she can do.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s a concern, definitely,” Matich said of high-risk offenders being released into communities. “I can’t believe he’s in our neighbourhood.”

Pete Nichols, President of the Whalley Business Improvement Association, is bothered but not surprised that Conway has located there.

“I don’t want him here, I don’t think it’s fair to the community,” Nichols said Thursday.

Nichols said decades of bad planning on Surrey’s part have made Whalley a natural fit for folks like Conway.

A compression of social services in the area accompanied by an abundance of drugs and alcohol make the community a magnet for people looking for those things.

“They’ve given a level of comfort to people like him that are going to look for a place to come to,” Nichols said. “The last 35 years has allowed for the abuse of this area by people like him.”

Local officials are working with BC Corrections, seeking to have Conway moved to another city.