Corrections Canada doesn’t seem concerned by a 45-per-cent increase in the rate of escapes from penitentiaries over the past three years. The rate in the 2015-16 fiscal year was 1.23 escapes per 1,000 inmates, up from 0.85 three years earlier, according to a departmental plan for 2017-18 recently tabled in parliament (read it in full after the jump). The prison service says that “in spite of the increase in the rate of escapes during the last three years, the results are still meeting CSC’s target.” It demonstrates that, if you set your expectations suitably low, any achievement is acceptable. This isn’t the only non-success at the $2.5 billion a year penitentiary service. In this three-year period, the rate of “non-natural and undetermined offender deaths in custody” rose by 60 per cent.
Muhammad Parvez, who strangled his 16-year-old daughter Aqsa (inset) to death because of his distorted belief that she had tarnished his family honour, has died in prison. His death comes nearly a decade after the murder that became a flashpoint for a national debate about cultural traditions imported to Canada by newcomers. “I killed my daughter. . . with my hands,” Parvez said, in a 911 call placed minutes after the murder in the Parvez home in Mississauga, Ontario in December 2007. The Parvez case sparked a sustained and furious national debate about the spread of misogynistic and patriarchal practices that put women and girls at risk of violence and death, though there had been many such murders dating back decades before Aqsa’s death. The debate intensified two years after Aqsa’s death, when four members of the Shafia family were murdered in June 2009 in Kingston, Ontario in a mass honour killing – the case that is the focus of my true crime book, Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders.
The parole board has recommended the laying of a criminal charge against a serial sex offender living in Vancouver because he breached conditions designed to protect the community. The board also imposed new conditions on him as it struggles to control the psychopath with a 30-year record of crimes including sexual assault and accessory to murder. Donald Gazley (inset), who is living at a halfway house in Vancouver, already is subject to an onerous 10-year supervision order, a rarely used form of close observation imposed on the most dangerous criminals. Gazley, 56, was diagnosed in prison as a “classic psychopath” and is considered a high risk to commit new sex offences. His last federal penitentiary sentence expired in December 2015 and he was released to a halfway house. His 10-year supervision period began at that time. In the roughly 13 months that he has been free from prison, Gazley has been repeatedly caught engaging in worrisome behaviour that appears designed to test the boundaries of his legal leash and put him in a position to procure new victims.
More than 40 years after Richard Ambrose (inset) was sentenced to hang for murdering two New Brunswick police officers, he is continuing to deny that he shot the victims. At a hearing in British Columbia this month, Ambrose, 68, told the parole board that he was only hired to “bury something” – he just didn’t know ‘something’ was the bodies of two policemen, Const. Michael O’Leary and Cpl. Aurele Bourgeois of the Moncton police department. At a hearing February 1 (read parole document, after the jump), the board refused Ambrose’s bid for full parole, noting that in the past year he has becoming increasingly hostile with prison staff and he was charged twice with breaking prison rules. Ambrose, who has changed his name to Bergeron, was ordered to remain behind bars in B.C.
Canada’s worst rapist, a serial predator who may have assaulted more than 1,000 women, is free from prison and one of the investigators who caught him is certain he’ll strike again. But Selva Subbiah, 56, (inset) should not pose a threat in Canada. He’s being deported to his native Malaysia. Subbiah was caught more than 25 years ago because of the dogged work of police investigators who amassed a mountain of evidence that sent him to prison for nearly a quarter century. His penitentiary sentence in Canada expired January 29, 2017. Subbiah is an unrepentant manipulator and liar who insists that he presents “zero risk” to reoffend. Experts who have examined him conclude that he poses a high risk to commit more, violent sex crimes, despite treatment he’s undergone while behind bars. He was repeatedly denied parole because of the undiminished danger he poses. Subbiah was caught in 1991 by Brian Thomson and Peter Duggan, investigators in the Toronto police department. In the podcast (after the jump), Thomson recounts in detail how he and his partner ensnared Subbiah with an undercover operation and located a trove of evidence that was key to Subbiah’s conviction and lengthy sentence.
(UPDATE – Feb. 1, 2017: As expected, Subbiah was ordered deported after an immigration and refugee board hearing.)
(SECOND UPDATE – Feb. 7, 2017: As I tweeted yesterday, Subbiah was flown to Malaysia, under guard, on Feb. 6)
Killer James Giff convinced the parole board he’s not a threat to reoffend if given the least restrictive form of freedom from prison but, in an unusual step, the board barred the murderer from accessing social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Giff, who raped and stabbed a 16-year-old girl, then left her to die in a snowbank, was granted full parole, a form of early release from penitentiary that permits him to live on his own, without direct daily supervision. It’s a big step for a criminal once classified as a sadist, and who spent most of the past 30 years behind bars. The parole board decided, after a hearing July 7, that Giff won’t present an “undue risk to society” but it imposed several special conditions on his full parole (read them all in the parole document, after the jump). Giff has been living and working in Montreal.
A psychopathic sex offender has been set free again in British Columbia, after being briefly detained, despite the revelation that he was “harassing a vulnerable female” near the halfway house where he’s under supervision and other troubling discoveries. Authorities expressed “significant concern” after learning that Donald Gazley (inset) secretly struck up a pen-pal relationship with a female sex offender in a U.S. prison – a woman who helped a man abuse her daughters. Gazley has a three-decades long criminal record that includes sex crimes against children and vulnerable adults and a conviction for involvement in a murder. He appears to be a rare and particularly dangerous offender – a sexual psychopath who preys on children and adults, male and female. Most offenders like him resist treatment and never stop committing crimes.
Is a witness to evil, who does not intervene, culpable or guilty only of cowardice? Annette Rogers has been to this precipice. Her scarred conscience reflects her failure. She did not do the difficult thing, the right thing. If Rogers had, 16-year-old Heather Fraser (inset) might have survived her encounter with a killer. Fraser was raped and stabbed by James Harold Giff on a cold Monday evening, January 28, 1985, in Smiths Falls, a small town in eastern Ontario on the historic Rideau waterway. Rogers was Giff’s girlfriend at the time. For nearly 25 years, she kept a terrible secret about the murder, until she spoke to me in 2009 (the podcast, after the jump, features her interview). Rogers revealed that she was taken by Giff on the night of the murder – in an act that would forever bind her to that night’s horror – to the snowy park where he had left his victim after raping her and stabbing her twice. Heather wasn’t dead. Bleeding profusely, she was crawling on her hands and knees through nearly two foot deep snow toward a nearby street. Rogers says she heard – but could not see in the dark – Heather’s faint cries for help. Rogers did not do the right thing. She did not run to Heather’s aid, or call police or for an ambulance. She agreed with Giff’s demand for silence, and assistance. She became, for a time, an accomplice. Heather was found hours after she was attacked and was rushed to hospital where she later died. Rogers says her inaction stemmed from fear that Giff would kill her. He had threatened her many times in their abusive relationship, she says. After Giff was jailed for Heather’s murder, Giff warned Rogers that he would hunt her down after release and kill her. This lingering threat has driven Rogers, in an act of self flagellation, to attend every one of Giff’s parole hearings, to listen over and over again to the sordid details of his crimes, and to plead with authorities not to free him. Giff was granted day parole to a halfway house in Montreal in January 2015, but nine months later, his release was suspended, then reinstated. Corrections Canada, which was responsible for supervising Giff’s freedom, refused, at the time, to disclose why Giff’s parole was suspended. Recently, the Parole Board of Canada released documents (read them after the jump) that reveal Giff had a “change of attitude” that sparked concern.
NOTE: This is an updated version of a story first published in 2009. It includes new information, new documents and a new podcast that includes portions of my recorded interview with Annette Rogers not previously released.
The Federal Court of Canada has thrown out the claim of an imprisoned double cop killer that he’s been defrauded by Corrections Canada and has ordered him to pay $150 to cover CSC’s legal costs. Protonothary Roger Lafrenière cited “radical deficiencies” in Richard Ambrose’s two-paragraph statement of claim and noted that it contained only “bald allegations of fraud and legal conclusions.” Ambrose filed it in January 2016, alleging that Corrections Canada improperly withheld money from him each month for room and board, beginning in October 2010, while he was confined in prisons in Alberta and B.C. Ambrose, who changed his name to Bergeron after his imprisonment for the cold-blooded murders of two Moncton, N.B. police officers in 1974, is well known to prison workers and parole authorities as a bitter, confrontational and sometimes aggressive complainer.
We may never know exactly how many times Melissa Ann Shephard (inset) has killed. In a criminal career that spans five decades, Shephard has sown confusion, obfuscated with layers of lies and masqueraded as a victim. The criminal justice system, unable to affix the damning labels she may deserve – serial killer, psychopath – continues to turn her loose to kill again and struggles to contain her. She has learned from her criminal mistakes and profited from her predation. Infamous as the ‘Internet Black Widow,’ Shephard was released Friday (March 18, 2016) from a women’s prison in Nova Scotia – amid a police warning – after her latest stint behind bars, a three-and-a-half year sentence. It was imposed in 2013 after she admitting spiking drinks of her newlywed fifth husband, 74-year-old Fred Weeks, with potent tranquilizers. An attempted murder charge was dropped when Shephard pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Two of Shephard’s four husbands who preceded Weeks ended up dead and another mysteriously fell ill immediately after meeting Shephard. Recent prison assessments (read what experts say, in internal documents after the jump) warn that Shephard scores high for some psychopathic traits, she is resistant to treatment and indifferent to the suffering of her victims. The only thing that has contained her lethal greed in the past 40+ years has been time behind bars and yet, the system has refused to apply the brand that could keep her locked up.