Nova Scotia

N.S. McDonald's killer granted full parole

One of the notorious McDonald's killers was released from prison Thursday with full parole.

Darren Muise released Thursday with conditions

Darren Muise made a plea deal and was given a 20-year sentence. (CBC)

One of the notorious McDonald's killers was released from prison Thursday with full parole.

Darren Muise was 18 years old when he pleaded guilty to taking part in a botched robbery in 1992 that left three people dead and one permanently injured.

He killed one of the victims, Neil Burroughs, 29, at the fast food restaurant in Sydney River, N.S.

Burroughs was shot during the robbery and was struggling for his life. Muise then stabbed Burroughs several times in the throat and neck, and finally Burroughs was shot a second time before he died.

The others killed were Jimmy Fagan, 27, and Donna Warren, 22.

Muise began serving his time in June 1993.

Documents obtained by CBC News show Muise had his final parole hearing on Nov. 22.

In its report, the parole board said Muise demonstrated "compliant behaviour" while in prison.

"You clearly indicated that your brutal violence was gratuitous, excessive and an explosion of anger as you desperately need to exercise control over a life where you felt powerless," the board said.

It also noted that over the years Muise has participated in emotions- and anger-management programs.

Mindset before the crime

The documents detail Muise's mental and emotional state before the deadly night in 1992.

His father was an alcoholic and he dropped out of high school before graduation.

"You experienced physical and emotional abuse and witnessed parental fighting. You became a loner and mistrusted people," the board writes of Muise.

"Your self-esteem was extremely low while your rage was building."

Over the years, Muise undertook several psychological and psychiatric assessments. The parole board said he had an antisocial personality disorder.

"Your crimes were characterized as involving a rare level of brutality and indifference towards the victims."

Gradual reintegration

Since 2007, Muise has slowly been allowed access to the public. In 2009, he was granted permission to leave his Quebec prison unescorted, a move that infuriated Burroughs's sister Cathy.

Darren Muise is banned from going to the community where the botched McDonald's robbery occurred. (CBC)

In March 2011, he was granted some day parole and started training in cabinet making, where the board said he showed "continued good compliance." In September of that year, he was granted regular day parole to stabilize his employment.

"Your social reintegration potential is high," wrote the board, adding four out of five offenders with similar characteristics will not re-offend.

The board said Muise has shown increased maturity and understanding. Now that Muise is free, his plan is to live with his girlfriend and continue to work, according to the board.

Conditions attached

Muise's parole comes with some conditions. He is banned from setting foot in the Sydney area ever again.

"This community is still struggling with the scars left by your actions and is fully entitled to heal peacefully," the parole board wrote to Muise.

It also mentions the victims' families, who have played an active role in each of his parole hearings over the years. Muise is banned from contacting them, as well as Arlene MacNeil, the only survivor, who was left with serious injuries after being shot in the head.

"They have the right to pursue a peaceful life, and to continue their healing process without any interference," the board wrote.

Other conditions of Muise's release include:

  • Banned from associating with people with criminal records or who participate in criminal activities.
  • Banned from consuming, purchasing or possessing illegal drugs.

Freeman MacNeil and Derek Wood, the other men convicted in the case, are serving life sentences with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Victim's sister reacts

Cathy Burroughs, Neil Burroughs's sister, attended the parole board hearing.

"We knew it was coming. We've known for quite a while," she said. "Am I happy about it? No. I haven't been happy since he was given his sentence in 1993."

She said she understands why he is banned from the Sydney area, but she doesn't think the condition will make a difference.

"There's a lot of contempt between him and certain family members," she said. "Will we forget about it? No."

Burroughs said she knows her brother would want the families to move on, but she said she's constantly reminded about the horrific way her brother died, and offers no sympathy for Muise.

"I feel bad for three individuals who have been in a place for the last 20 years, where they can't leave where they've been."