Nova Scotia

Man convicted in Christmas Day murder of taxi driver denied parole

A man who stabbed a Halifax-area taxi driver to death on Christmas Day 2005 has again been denied parole. In a hearing on June 23, the Parole Board of Canada determined that Garmen Davison Smith is still too high a risk to lash out violently.

Garmen Davison Smith stabbed Kenneth James Purcell to death in 2005

Kenneth Purcell was murdered on Christmas Day 2005 in Dartmouth, N.S. (Submitted by Sheila Hubley)

A man who stabbed a Halifax-area taxi driver to death in Dartmouth, N.S., on Christmas Day 2005 has again been denied parole.

In a hearing on June 23, the Parole Board of Canada determined that Garmen Davison Smith is still too high a risk to lash out violently.

Smith was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed Kenneth James Purcell, 62, in a dispute over a fare. He was convicted of second-degree murder.

Smith was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years, a decision he unsuccessfully appealed. The sentencing judge determined that a youth sentence would not be sufficient to hold Smith accountable.

The parole board also noted in its decision that the treatments he needed to help curb his violent tendencies were more readily available in the adult federal system.

Threatened family

Purcell was not Smith's only victim. He had previously stabbed another cab driver in an earlier dispute over a fare, leading to a conviction for aggravated assault.

In its decision, the board recounted a history of violence.

"On one occasion, you also threatened to cut the throats of close family members while brandishing a knife," the board wrote.

"In another incident, you threatened your intimate partner by grabbing her clothing around the neck. Collectively, these behaviours stand out as aggravating in the assessment of risk."

However, Smith has made progress. The board noted that he has successfully completed several escorted and unescorted temporary releases from prison and has even completed a work release. However, the board said those improvements are not enough.

"In the final analysis, or any analysis for that matter, the gravity of your offence begs the need for caution. In a senseless but enraged mindset, you viciously took the life of an innocent man, leaving an extended family to grieve. That grief remains significant for them at this time."

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