Mur­derer granted un­escorted vis­its

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - SU­SAN CLAIRMONT

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. sclair­mont@thes­ 905-526-3539 | @su­san­clair­mont

As won­der­ful as our jus­tice sys­tem is in Canada … there are fail­ings. LOUISE HAR­RIS PA­ROLE BOARD MEM­BER

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