Paul Bernardo failed in his second parole bid on Tuesday, June 22nd, after the parents of two of his victims recounted the enduring pain of his crimes, warning he should never be released from his life sentence.
The hearing officers of the Parole Board of Canada took about an hour before denying Bernardo release, saying they were not persuaded that he no longer posed a substantive risk of reoffending.
“Your understanding and insight remains limited,” Maureen Gauci, one of the hearing officers, said in delivering the decision.
“It was evident today that you continue to exhibit behaviours that are counter-productive to the development of insight. You have not shown the risk of offending can be managed in the community.”
Gauci promised full reasons for the decision within 15 days.
In impassioned victim-impact statements to the board, the parents of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy branded Bernardo as an incurable, sadistic psychopath who, despite decades behind bars, still poses a formidable threat. A persistent and “evil dark cloud” continues to haunt their family, Donna and Doug French told the hearing.
“For those who say time heals, they don’t know the excruciating pain that comes from such a horrific loss,” they said. “Time doesn’t heal the pain; the pain is a life sentence.”
Debbie Mahaffy talked of the pain of having to face another hearing in which Bernardo was making a bid for freedom less than three years after his previous failed attempt.
“Once again, Bernardo’s desires are inflicted on us as he inserts himself into our lives again, forcing his horrors and terrifying memories upon us,” Mahaffy said in a statement read by lawyer Tim Danson. “What does resting in peace mean when you have to relive these horrors every two or so years for the rest of our lives?”
Bernardo has been serving a life sentence for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French, 15, and Leslie Mahaffy, 14, in the early 1990s near St. Catharines, Ont. Now 56, he became eligible for parole more than three years ago but was denied release in October 2018 after the hearing officers deliberated for about 30 minutes.
His parole officer said Bernardo had made no progress or completed any programming since that first hearing. The prisoner offered no release plan, the official said in recommending he be denied both day or full parole.
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