Outrage erupted after the decision in March this year to grant imprisoned cop killer Craig Munro (inset) unescorted passes to leave prison. Munro nearly lost his freedom because of the publicity the decision attracted, Cancrime learned. The halfway house that agreed to accept the notorious killer backed out, citing “considerable media coverage,” a parole document (available after the jump) reveals. Another halfway house agreed to accept him. The parole board recently reviewed its initial decision to release Munro because of the change of plans.
The board decided that it would not cancel Munro’s get-out-of-prison passes. The record of the September decision notes: “The board does not view the change in location as elevating your risk, therefore there is no action on the UTA.” Munro has been granted unescorted temporary absences, meaning he gets to leave prison for stints that will last from three to 15 days. The length of his trips out of prison will gradually increase, if he behaves.
Munro and his brother Jamie killed 30-year-old Toronto police constable Michael Sweet in March 1980 during a botched robbery of a Toronto tavern. Sweet died a slow and painful death, while the Munro brothers ignored the wounded officer’s pleas for mercy. Craig Munro shot Sweet and then let him bleed to death during the ensuing standoff. P0lice tactical officers eventually stormed the room where the Munroes were holed up, but Sweet was near death by the time. The officer who led the assault committed suicide in 2005, still tortured by the fact that he had not taken his troops in earlier, under orders by superiors to wait. Craig Munro was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. His brother was convicted of second-degree murder. He was granted full parole in 1992 and eventually left Canada to live in Italy. Munro has rationalized the killing by explaining that he was extremely intoxicated and that he didn’t know where he was shooting when he fired the shot that hit Sweet. He claimed also that he didn’t know the officer was bleeding to death because he didn’t see the blood seeping out underneath the officer’s heavy coat. Munro also claims that although he brought loaded weapons to the robbery, he did not intend to shoot anyone.
Munro was granted the passes after a lengthy hearing in March 2010 in which the board noted that he had “great difficulty discussing this crime in a straightforward manner.” As a result of that decision, the Toronto Police Association and the Sweet family are demanding changes to the corrections and parole systems. In a hearing just a year before Munro was granted the passes, parole board members said that his credibility was “questionable.” The board wrote, in the record of that hearing that:
Fully accepting responsibility for your crime is still an issue and true empathy was not evidenced today. Even though you repeatedly admitted the harm you had caused, it was perceived as impression management rather than true affect.
The board concluded that Munro presented “an undue risk to society.” He was denied unescorted passes or parole after the hearing in February 2009. Munro already had a substantial criminal record by the time he murdered Constable Sweet. He was on early release from prison at the time of the killing. He had previously amassed convictions for weapons offences, assault causing bodily harm, assault, possession of stolen property, dangerous driving and a slew of other crimes dating back to 1968.
Here’s the written record of the latest parole board review of Munro’s case, from September 21, 2010:
Below is the written record of the March 2010 parole board decision to grant Munro unescorted passes:
Below is the written record of a parole hearing from February 2009, at which Craig Munro was denied release:
Jamie Munro was released on full parole in 1992 and in 1994 was granted permission to leave Canada to live in Italy, on the condition that he not come back to Ontario without the consent of the parole board. As recently as July 2006, he sought permission to return to Ontario to visit a sick family member. Parole board members wrote, in a 2006 report, that letters he sent the board made it clear that he continues “to hold excessive and strong negative feelings toward members of the police community in —-. In view of this, the board continues to be satisfied that any confrontation between you and the police in —- has the potential for an escalation in your risk and thereby an increase in risk to the community.” He was refused entry to Ontario.
Below are the records of 5 separate parole decisions in Jamie Munro’s case, in reverse chronological order, beginning with the 2006 refusal to allow him into Ontario: