Shawn Hennessey, one of two men convicted in the 2005 deaths of four Alberta Mounties, has won limited freedom after a parole hearing today at the Bowden Institution where he is serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter.
Hennessey can apply over the next six months for unescorted temporary absences from prison.
For first time Hennessey accepted full responsibility for his role in Mountie shootings.He can leave jail unescorted once a month for up to three days, but will be required to stay at his family's home in Barrhead.
"This is all at my hands," he told the board. "All I had to do was make a phone call. I chose not to. I was scared, I was confused. I didn't know what to do."
Keep Hennessey in jail, mother pleads
The only member of any of the victims family in attendance at the hearing was Const. Anthony Gordon's mother, Doreen Jewell-Duffy.
She urged the board to deny Hennessey any release.
"Shawn helped Roszko murder my son because he is a coward," she said.
"My world has been shattered. The days and nights are long and empty. My son will never see his sons. Shawn you get to go home to your children."
She also told the board her statement today is her last because "it won't change anything."
When asked by a board member why he should get temporary release, Hennessey told the board, "I've grown tremendously. I can't imagine what the families have gone through."
"I have a wife and children. It's not just for me. I have to prove to myself to everybody that I have changed. I am trying to be a better person."
'He's come a long way,' wife says
Christine Hennessey said her husband is a better man.
"He's come a long way down a lonely road. My children deserve this chance. I deserve this chance."
Corrections Services of Canada and his psychologist assessed Hennessey's risk to re-offend as low, the board said, adding that unescorted temporary release is part of his gradual re-integration into the community.
Members of Hennessey’s family were jubilant about the board's decision.
“Wonderful,” said his aunt Criss Hennessey. “We're all just thrilled. Really happy.”
His mother said the community supported her son.
“There was I think over 300 letters written in his favour and the parole board did take that into consideration,” Sandy Hennessey said.
The married father of two was sentenced in January 2009 to 15 years in prison, which was later reduced to 10 years in recognition of time served and his guilty plea.
Hennessey's brother-in-law, Dennis Cheeseman, was released last November after serving two thirds of his seven-year sentence.
Hennessey and Cheeseman admitted to giving James Roszko a gun and a ride back to his farm where four Mounties were guarding a marijuana grow-op and auto-parts chop shop set up in a Quonset hut.
Roszko gunned down Constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Brock Myrol and Leo Johnston on March 3, 2005 before turning the gun on himself.