More than 40 years after Richard Ambrose 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.
The parole board says, in its recent decision, that psychological testing completed recently found that Ambrose is a moderate-high risk to reoffend. He’s considered a moderate risk for violence towards an intimate partner.
He has a long history of belligerence and threatening behaviour. The new parole record notes that “you have continued to make threats towards those you feel have wronged you.” It reveals that Ambrose made threats toward a lawyer who had worked for him. “The lawyer believed that you may be able to carry out such threats, so police and your [case management team] were both advised,” the written record of the February 1 hearing states.
Ambrose told the board that he wants to live on Vancouver Island, if he’s released, but he provided no concrete release plan. He has no community support contacts in the area. Ever the pest, Ambrose warned the parole board that he intends to fight any decisions that keep him locked up and it’s his intention to “embarrass the Board and CSC” and pursue court action. Ambrose hasn’t been successful in the past. Last year, he was ordered to pay court costs to Corrections Canada after a failed court action.
Ambrose was released from prison on day parole in 1999 but, after a fall that caused a brain injury, he assaulted an intimate partner and made threats towards others. Ambrose has sometimes claimed that he doesn’t remember the 1974 murders that put him behind bars, because of his brain injury, although his latest claim that he didn’t pull the trigger seems to suggest he remembers precisely what transpired 43 years ago. The only person who could corroborate Ambrose’s claim about his lack of culpability is conveniently dead. James Hutchison, the mastermind of the 1974 kidnapping that led to the murders of O’Leary and Bourgeois, died behind bars in 2011 at age 83.
Hutchison and Ambrose kidnapped the 14-year-old son of a wealthy Moncton restaurateur, Cy Stein, in December 1974. Stein paid a $15,000 ransom to the kidnappers, who returned the boy unharmed. O’Leary and Bourgeois were part of the police dragnet hunting the kidnappers and had been assigned to check out a suspicious car when they disappeared.
Hutchison and Ambrose subdued the two police officers and took them to a wooded area about 25 kilometres outside Moncton, where they were shot in the head and buried in shallow graves. (Read a detailed account of the crime).
Dale Swansburg, a retired RCMP officer who caught the killers, told me in 2009 that the pair should have been hanged. Their sentences were commuted to life in prison after capital punishment was abolished in 1976.
“When they committed the crime, there was capital punishment,” Swansburg said. “It should have been carried out.”
The written record of the February 1, 2017 parole hearing: