Murderer granted unescorted visits
GRAVENHURST — The injustice is gut wrenching.
Convicted killer George Lovie has been granted unescorted temporary absences (UTAs) to Sudbury so he can begin the process of reintegrating himself into society, 26 years after he murdered Donna and Arnold Edwards and allegedly raped and attempted to murder their daughter, who had dumped him.
The Parole Board of Canada handed down its decision after a four-hour hearing Tuesday at Beaver Creek Institution, the minimum-security prison where Lovie, 58, resides in Gravenhurst.
He got to this point of measured freedom by appealing his previous Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearing decision from last November, in which he was granted some escorted passes into the world, but denied the unescorted type.
Federal offenders, you see, can appeal if they don’t like a PBC decision.
In fact, they can appeal an appeal, if they so desire.
However, the Edwards family — and all other victims — have no recourse. They have no right whatsoever to appeal.
What they do get, is dragged back to Gravenhurst from their homes (the Edwards family is large and scattered far and wide — some had to fly in) so they can go through the trauma of sitting spitting distance away from Lovie in a small cramped room to read aloud their heartbreaking victim impact statements. Yet again.
Many of the family members have post traumatic stress disorder, including Donna and Arnold’s son, Don Edwards, a former NHL goalie. But that is not the worst of it. The grounds on which Lovie won his appeal included his argument that he is a killer, but not a rapist. Not officially anyway.
In the weeks prior to the murders in Glanbrook, Lovie refused to accept that Michele Edwards did not want to be his girlfriend anymore. Indeed, she hadn’t even been that for very long. A few months at most.
He did not take the news well and began obsessing on her, stalking her and churning himself into a rage.
Then, in February 1991, he held Michele hostage at knifepoint for hours in her apartment and allegedly raped her.
He cut the phone cords and unscrewed the light bulbs from their sockets. He told her he had a gun and would blow off her arms and legs so nobody else would want her but him.
Michele, 26 at the time, survived. Lovie was charged with sexual assault.
But Lovie would not accept that. To this very day, he denies sexually assaulting Michele. He seems to believe that he had consensual sex with her that night he took her hostage.
And so, as payback for that sexual assault allegation, while he was on bail he hid under Michele’s front porch then chased her with a gun over to her parents’ house across the street. He shot Donna through the front door. When the gun jammed, he stabbed Arnold to death.
Lovie was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Some of the details of the alleged sexual assault were evidence at the murder trial.
Yet, the sexual assault charge was stayed, because Lovie was already serving a life sentence and to spare Michele another trial.
Legally, on paper, Lovie is not a sex offender.
So in November, Lovie was denied his UTAs by the two-member parole board panel in part because he has refused to get treatment designed for sex offenders. He appealed by saying, why should he? He is not a sex offender. And the PBC agrees. “As wonderful as our justice system is in Canada … there are failings,” began Louise Harris, one of the parole board members at this new hearing on Tuesday. “The board cannot rectify what was not dealt with by the justice system. We, as a board, cannot make a finding of guilt. We are left with an allegation and charge that was never dealt with.”
Soon, Lovie will begin his UTAs. Each is to be 72-hours long. He will travel, alone, by bus from Gravenhurst to Sudbury where he will stay at a halfway house. He plans to apply for identification, get his driver’s licence and scout out homes for his father and stepmother to buy when they move to Sudbury from Peterborough. He has 18 months to do all six UTAs, with no more than one being completed every three months.
As though somehow trying to soften the blow for the Edwards family, Harris explained that the PBC “is in the business of risk assessment” and not the business of meting out justice.
I think that goes without saying.
Susan Clairmont’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. firstname.lastname@example.org 905-526-3539 | @susanclairmont
As wonderful as our justice system is in Canada … there are failings. LOUISE HARRIS PAROLE BOARD MEMBER