Court freezes out killer professor's demand for second winter parka

TORONTO – A former Montreal professor who gunned down four academics at his university has lost his court bid to force prison authorities to give him a second winter parka.

Valery Fabrikant, 72, serving a life sentence for murder, argued he needed the extra clothing because of his age.

“He claims that elderly people need more clothes in the winter than younger and healthier individuals,” according to Federal Court Judge Andre Scott.

Fabrikant was an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Concordia University known for his disruptive behaviour against students, staff members and other academics.

He was facing dismissal when, in August 1992, he went into the engineering department with guns and ammunition in his briefcase and opened fire.

He killed four academics and wounded a secretary.

Currently incarcerated at Quebec’s Archambault Institution, Fabrikant grieved that the prison was refusing to providing him with adequate winter clothing.

He claimed to have received two parkas at every other institution where he had been incarcerated, and so his rights to two parkas were “grandfathered.”

The grievance was rejected in August last year under “regional procedure 885 of the Quebec region,” which stipulates one parka for each inmate every three years.

Fabrikant asked Federal Court to review whether the decision was reasonable.

“The norms described in this instruction are flexible,” Fabrikant argued. “They can be changed according to special need (sic) of specific prisoners, especially elderly and sick prisoners.”

At his hearing, Fabrikant claimed the officers who nixed his grievances were “not well educated” and could not properly interpret applicable legislation, policies and procedures.

Scott rejected that argument.

Fabrikant also said he had a heart condition that makes him feel the cold more harshly than other inmates.

He said a doctor had prescribed a second parka in the past but claimed to be unable to find the original prescription.

In response, prison authorities argued Fabrikant failed to file reliable evidence to show he required a second parka, or that he needed to walk outside in the winter to improve his health.

They also said he had never been officially provided with a second parka, nor had he been authorized to have one in his possession.

In his decision, Scott rejected Fabrikant’s claim he had acquired rights or legitimate expectations to a second parka.

The judge also said the inmate had provided no medical evidence showing his heart condition warranted an exception to prison policies.

“The applicant has not convinced this court that the decision was unreasonable; consequently this application for judicial review is dismissed,” Scott said.