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Temporary absence hearing Friday for Catherine Carroll’s murderer

Brian Doyle (right) speaks to lawyer John Duggan in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s in 2002. — Telegram file photo
Brian Doyle (right) speaks to lawyer John Duggan in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s in 2002. — Telegram file photo - Keith Gosse

‘I am going to block everything that I can block,’ Greg Parsons vows

Greg Parsons will be in British Columbia Friday to face his mother’s killer.

Brian Doyle, the man who brutally murdered Catherine Carroll of St. John’s, is up for a review that would grant him escorted temporary absences (ETA).

Carroll was murdered on New Year’s Day 1991 and Parsons was wrongfully convicted of the crime.

 Doyle wasn’t caught until years later.

Parsons said Friday’s hearing will take place at William Head Institution, where Doyle is incarcerated.

It’s a minimum-security institution consisting of 87 acres of federal land located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Metchosin, B.C., about 30 kilometres north-west of the city of Victoria, according to Correctional Services Canada’s website, which also notes the facility is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean.

It’s based on a residential design, composed of five neighborhoods of clustered duplexes.

“It’s a country club,” Parsons told The Telegram. “He has done over half his sentence in this place. It’s just insult to injury. We are so disappointed. … He slashed my mother 53 times. To find out he has been held with soft gloves and put in this facility, it’s just so sickening for the family.”

Because of a glitch, Parsons said he was not notified about the hearing — which had been rescheduled from earlier this summer — until last Friday when contacted by a relative.

After expressing his upset, parole board officials sorted his arrangements.

He leaves Thursday, and said he has to face it alone as his wife can’t make the trip due to illness, but said they have been scrambling for the last number of days 10 hours a day to work on his victim impact statement.

“The thing is this is really devastating for the family,” Parsons said.

It will be the first time Parsons has laid eyes on Doyle since the matter was in court here. He said victims services in Newfoundland and Labrador is too overwhelmed and there were no additional supports for him among the justice system and lawyers here.

“Where is the so-called support of lawyers and the justice system? There is no such thing in Newfoundland and Labrador. Where is the benefit of making such a huge mistake if you don’t learn from it and move forward?” Parsons said.

“I feel so used by the whole process. It’s very demeaning. I am Newfoundland’s dirty little secret or mistake.”

Parsons said he will do everything he can to prevent Doyle from getting the temporary absences.

“I know he’s not getting out (at this hearing). It’s the first step. But next year there could be another step. He’s skated through the system,” he said.

“I am going to block everything that I can block. He’s a dangerous offender in my opinion.”

The ETAs are granted by the Parole Board of Canada for medical reasons, administrative purposes, community service, family contact, personal development for rehabilitative purposes and/or compassionate reasons.

Doyle, who lived in the neighbourhood and was known to the family, was sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 18 years in 2003 after he pleaded guilty.

Family members of the victim have an option of filing a victim impact statement before the board makes its decision.

The shocking story of Carroll’s murder still reverberates in the Newfoundland and Labrador justice system for the way in which the original case was handled.

Parsons was wrongfully convicted of killing his mother in 1994.

He was finally exonerated in 1998 when DNA found at the scene didn't match his. Doyle, who lived in the neighbourhood and was known to the family, was sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 18 years in 2003 after he pleaded guilty.

Parsons’ case, along with others, was a key part of the Lamer Inquiry into wrongful convictions in this province. Its report was released in 2006.

Commissioner Antonio Lamer faulted many aspects of the justice system including the investigation.

“Parsons’ case became a runaway train, fueled by tunnel vision and a noble cause, and picking up many passengers along the way,” Lamer’s report concluded. “The investigative team lacked training and experience. But most of all, it lacked objective critical analysis through leadership. It was a ship adrift ... (and thus) extremely vulnerable to tunnel vision.”

Parsons was 19 when he discovered his mother's body in her home at 16 James Pl. in 1991. He was arrested eight days later and charged with first-degree murder.

Doyle appealed his sentence more than a decade ago, but it was upheld.

According to details from the court case, Doyle broke into Carroll’s home early Jan. 1, 1991, and used a steak knife from her kitchen to kill her. He later gave no explanation for murder, other than the fact he had been drunk and under the influence of LSD.

At his sentencing in 2003, the court heard about Doyle's time out of the province after the murder.

Doyle increased his drug and alcohol use. He spent time begging on the streets of Los Angeles. He was deported back to Canada for crimes committed in the U.S. He trafficked drugs between Newfoundland and Ontario.

He claimed he was running, not from the law, but himself. But the court was told by the Crown prosecutor that Doyle, if he was truly remorseful, would have turned himself in right away.

barbara.sweet@thetelegram.com

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