Re­mem­ber­ing her brother Neil

Los­ing fam­ily mem­ber a life sen­tence hard to en­dure


Her brother’s mur­der may have hap­pened al­most 25 years ago but for Cathy Bur­roughs the pain of los­ing a sib­ling has never gone away.

“It’s get­ting harder now be­cause you know they’re out there,” said Bur­roughs on Wed­nes­day, just days af­ter learn­ing Dar­ren Muise, 43, one of the killers in­volved in the 1992 McDon­ald’s mur­ders and who pleaded guilty to killing Neil Bur­roughs, an em­ployee at the Syd­ney River restau­rant, had been given per­mis­sion to be friends with an­other former fed­eral in­mate who has also served a life sen­tence.

Bur­roughs says life sen­tences are usu­ally only given to those who mur­der, which seems odd, con­sid­er­ing Muise is not sup­posed to as­so­ciate with any­one he knows or has rea­son to be­lieve has been in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

“I was quite shocked.”

Adding to the pain was find­ing out about the mat­ter from TV. The fam­ily is sup­posed to be no­ti­fied in ad­vance when changes are made to a parolee’s con­di­tions.

“It nor­mally two weeks in ad­vance al­though we’re hear­ing now that it’s one week,” says Bur­roughs

Bur­roughs says she has been as­sured that not be­ing no­ti­fied ahead of the me­dia was an over­sight that shouldn’t hap­pen again. But it still irks her that Muise is al­lowed to be friends with an­other felon in what ap­pears to be an­other ex­am­ple of Muise re­ceiv­ing pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.

“Since day one this man has al­ways had some­body higher up help­ing him get through the sys­tem,” she says. “He was pro­tected when he was in prison … He was never re­ally housed in a max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison, only for the first year when they were at Dorch­ester. Af­ter that he was al­ways in a min­i­mum se­cu­rity prison. He’s al­ways been cod­dled. He’s been guided. He’s done ev­ery­thing to the book.”

But what even worse is that af­ter all this time, Muise still hasn’t apol­o­gized for his ac­tions.

“He has never, never said that he was sorry or that he has any em­pa­thy for the vic­tims. Still. That ticks me off,” she said, adding that one of mur­der­ers, Derek Wood, has apol­o­gized and that apol­ogy has been ap­pre­ci­ated by the fam­i­lies.

“He apol­o­gized to the fam­i­lies so that meant a lot to the fam­i­lies.”

Muise was sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and rob­bery for his in­volve­ment in the 1992 in­ci­dent that saw three peo­ple mur­dered and one per­son per­ma­nently dis­abled be­cause of a botched rob­bery at a McDon­ald’s restau­rant in Syd­ney River that has since been torn down. Bur­roughs, 29, and Donna War­ren, 22, died at the scene while Jimmy Fa­gan, 27, died later in hospi­tal. Ar­leen MacNeil, then 20 years old, sur­vived but was left phys­i­cally and men­tally dis­abled.

Muise was re­leased in 2012 with full pa­role. He cur­rently lives in Bri­tish Columbia. Free­man MacNeil and Derek Wood were each sen­tenced to 25 years in prison for their crimes. They won’t be el­i­gi­ble for full pa­role un­til later this year.

Bur­roughs says the fam­i­lies also re­ceived life sen­tences when this hap­pened.

“Those three in­di­vid­u­als have to know that there will be a Bur­roughs in their lives for the rest of their lives so I got a life sen­tence too. A life sen­tence to let them know we’re still out here,” she says, adding she prefers to be pri­vate but makes an ex­cep­tion when it comes to her brother. “That’s why I speak to the press — it’s to let them know we haven’t for­got­ten.”

It’s about hon­our­ing the mem­ory of a brother who died be­fore he should.

“I have al­ways made a prom­ise to Neil that I would see this through to the end.”


This file photo from 1992 shows the McDon­ald’s restau­rant in Syd­ney River, that has since been torn down, where a rob­bery that went wrong cost three night shift work­ers their lives.


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