The parole board has revoked passes that permitted a cop killing mass murderer to leave prison. The decision came after a prison outburst in which Steven Lee LeClair revealed that he has little empathy for his victims and blames them for his problems (read document, after the jump, that details the outburst), despite his repeated claims that he’s remorseful. Authorities fear LeClair has fallen into an old pattern that puts him at an elevated risk for “extreme violence.” In the recent incident, the imprisoned killer also was “belligerent,” “rude,” and “disrespectful” toward corrections staff. LeClair, now 70, was thrown out of a Vancouver bar on September 19, 1980. He returned with a handgun and shot three people to death, comandeered a car and drove to an RCMP detachment where he shot two officers, injuring one and killing constable Tom Agar. (UPDATE: LeClair lost an appeal against the parole decision. Read the written record of his appeal in the Parole Records Library.)
LeClair has been receiving passes to leave prison for short periods since 2010. Since 2013, he’s been given unescorted passes but they’re suspended, after the incident in February. According to a written record of a parole board decision dated May 9, 2017:
CSC reports that on February 27, 2017 you were rude and disrespectful to an institutional staff member. You reportedly became belligerent when you were given documents for your day parole hearing. You made disparaging comments towards the victims, asked why you would want to see your parole supervisor and said you no longer wanted to receive correspondence from the Board.
The following day you met with your institutional and community parole officers to discuss the incident. You admitted you were feeling stressed and anxious at the thought of your hearing, and had been feeling ill. You reportedly minimized your behaviour, projected responsibility to the victims and failed to see how your behaviour suggested a lack of empathy or remorse. You were
unable to explain why you went a full day and a half without apologizing or asking to see your parole supervisor.
The corrections and parole authorities who manage LeClair’s case are concerned, noting that he was “experiencing anxiety and stress in addition to increased anti-social and/or anti-authoritarian thoughts for a few weeks prior to the outburst” and “the pattern strongly mirrors the personal and emotional struggles, thoughts and attitudes leading up to the murders. Historically you turned to alcohol to manage stress, which elevates your risk for extreme violence.”
LeClair was preparing to apply for permission to leave prison entirely and live at a halfway house, a critical step toward living in the community without supervision. He has now withdrawn his application for day parole.
LeClair’s crime has been described in the past by parole authorities as a “bloody spasm of deliberate violence.” He had a lengthy record of violent and erratic behaviour before the killings in September 1980.
LeClair was drinking at the Palace Hotel in Vancouver and was thrown out for belligerent behaviour on Friday, September 19. Enraged, he told bar staff he’d be back to kill them. He returned with a gun and shot to death bar manager Anthony Dutkiewicz, 50, bar worker James McDonald, 35, and patron Frieda Kardapehl, 72. A fourth man suffered powder burns after a bullet narrowly missed his face. LeClair left the bar and carjacked a driver to take him to the Richmond RCMP station. LeClair burst into the police building and fired into the chest of constable Tom Agar, killing him instantly. He also traded shots with constable Wayne Hanniman, 24, who was struck in the leg. Hanniman wounded LeClair, who was subdued. Agar left behind a 10-month-old daughter and a pregnant wife.
LeClair was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. He sought to shorten his parole ineligibility period through a faint-hope hearing but his bid was rejected. Victims have told parole authorities that the crimes caused “ongoing, immeasurable harm and grief.”
A statistical evaluation suggests a criminal like LeClair is a “high risk” to re-offend. A 2015 psychological assessment suggests his risk to commit new crimes is “moderate” although the risk would be “extremely high” if he used alcohol.
The written record of the decision by the Parole Board of Canada in May 2017 suspending LeClair’s unescorted passes: