TORONTO – Paul Bernardo has applied for day parole in Toronto.
The lawyer for the families of Bernardo’s murder victims, 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French, said Correctional Service Canada sent out a form letter to the families last week advising them of his application.
Tim Danson said it is Bernardo’s right to apply for parole three years before he is eligible, but this has left families of both girls devastated, even though they knew this day was coming.
“It is 22 years after the fact for my clients,” Danson said. “It was — I don’t even know what words to use — but really upsetting for them. It just brings everything back and they have to re-live things.”
He has told the families that there is no chance Bernardo will ever see the outside world again, that this is simply part of the process.
Bernardo was sentenced to life with no chance for parole for 25 years for raping and murdering Mahaffy and French.
He was also given a dangerous offender status, the most severe designation in Canadian law, for admitting to raping 14 other women and other charges related to Mahaffy and French. Dangerous offenders can be imprisoned indefinitely.
Danson said he received the letter on June 25 and has been corresponding with the authorities since then.
It’s rare for people convicted of first-degree murder to also be designated dangerous offenders, since first-degree murder already carries a life sentence.
Danson believes the dangerous offender designation must be dealt with first, rather than the murder charges.
“There is a process that’s set up for dangerous offenders to persuade the parole board that you’re no longer a dangerous offender, which is different criteria than normal parole board criteria,” he said. “That must be dealt with first.”
He said the authorities are working with him to figure out the proper process.