On Friday morning, in a small courtroom on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Greg Parsons saw his mother’s killer for the first time in 15 years.
The man, Brian Doyle, was sentenced in 2003 to 18 years in prison without parole for the brutal murder of Catherine Carroll.
A hearing was held on Friday, 15 years after Doyle’s sentencing, to grant him temporary absences from the minimum-security William’s Head prison to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Doyle’s hearing was successful.
Parsons, who was himself falsely convicted of his mother’s killing in 1991, says there’s comfort that Doyle didn’t get parole.
“It’s a small victory,” he said.
But Parsons thinks Doyle is still getting off easy for the death of his mother.
William Head is a minimum-security facility. Parsons believes Doyle should be in a maxiumum-security facility, as he worries of a risk to reoffend.
“It’s water on three sides. The front gate is open- you just walk in through the front gate. There’s no locks, you just walk in and out. It’s crazy,” he said.
“I have pictures of a deer eating grass on their properties. People would pay money to go onto a resort like that.”
The emotions are still raw for Parsons all these years later.
“She was disfigured so bad that it was a closed casket. I still have dreams that my mom is still alive because I don’t have the closure of seeing her in a casket. That’s how vicious the crime was.”
He says it was difficult walking into the courtroom to see his mother’s killer after all these years.
“I was prepared for it, but it’s a very emotional situation. A couple of my relatives were there. They were so emotional they just filed their impact statements because they were too emotional,” he said.
“I knew that this had to be done. I went in and I said it the way it had to be said.”
Catherine Carroll was stabbed 53 times with a steak knife on New Year’s Day in 1991.
On Jan, 2, 1991, Parsons found his mother on her bathroom floor in a pool of dried blood.
On Jan, 10, 1991, Parsons was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
It took five years of appeals for the justice system to realize its mistake. It took another two years for Parsons to be acquitted.
Now, Parsons says he’s ready to use his experience to do his part to improve the justice system in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The Newfoundland justice system has been kicking me for years because they’re embarrassed by me. I am a good man. I am a very good man. I’m good to people,” said Parsons.
“I’m a 17-year veteran in the fire department. I help people every day of my life.”
Parsons says he’s reached out to the federal Department of Justice, in hopes of arranging a meeting with minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, as well as her provincial counterpart Andrew Parsons.
He says he hopes to use his experience to improve the justice system for those who come next.
“I am here. I want to help. You don’t put those guys down there in that pen. All they’re doing is making connections,” he said.
“You should have a decent prison with programs so they can better themselves. Once you know they’ve bettered themselves, then you give them more freedom.”
Parsons is planning a press conference for when he gets back to Newfoundland and Labrador, where he will present his thoughts on what needs to be done to fix correctional institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“But that’s for another day. I don’t want anything to take away from mom today. This is about mom and keeping mom’s killer in jail. Keeping him in a proper prison,” he said.