Man declared dangerous offender at 16 gets day parole after more than 30 years

Thomas Patrick Lyons became one of Canada's youngest dangerous offenders when he was sentenced by Nova Scotia judge for a 1983 sexual assault in Halifax.

Nova Scotia judge sentenced Thomas Lyons as dangerous offender for sexual assault in Halifax

Thomas Patrick Lyons is seen in this undated photo. (CBC)

A man who was one of Canada's youngest dangerous offenders when he was sentenced more than three decades ago for a sexual assault in Halifax is getting a little more freedom.

In a decision released Wednesday, the Parole Board of Canada said it is granting Thomas Patrick Lyons day parole and agreeing to transfer him from prison to a halfway house.

Lyons, who is now in his early 50s, has spent his entire adult life in prison.

He pleaded guilty in 1983 to a series of charges after he tied up a woman in her home and sexually assaulted her. He was just 16 years old when a Nova Scotia judge declared him a dangerous offender, a designation upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 1987, Lyons was handed a life sentence for a hostage taking involving a prison employee. He was convicted of charges including sexual assault with a weapon and forcible confinement. He said at the time his plan was to flee the prison with hostages, then commit suicide by cop.

Not yet ready for full parole

In its decision, the Parole Board of Canada noted Lyons has been housed in prisons all across Canada, at all security levels. He was transferred back to the Atlantic region in 1991. For security and privacy reasons, the board will not reveal which prison he is being housed in now.

The parole board said Lyons has successfully completed "hundreds" of escorted temporary absences from prison and several unescorted passes.

Lyons has shown steady progress while behind bars, the board said, but he's not yet ready for full parole. Instead, it is granting him day parole.

Lyons has had to learn basic life skills, like how to use a cellphone and public transit. He told the board one of his frustrations on past releases was picking the right bus.

The board said the gradual lifting of restrictions is necessary to help begin his reintegration into society. It said Lyons is still considered a moderate risk to reoffend violently or sexually, which is why it is rejecting his request for full parole.

Lyons's day parole comes with special restrictions. He must report all intimate relationships, must avoid any of his victims and must stay out of Spryfield, the area of Halifax where his first offences occurred.