Gripped with fear
Community concerned convicted killer might return.
STEPHENVILLE, N.L. — Robert Hilroy Legge has been granted day parole.
That sends a shiver up Tracy McIsaac’s spine.
McIsaac is the niece of Ann Maria Lucas, the 56-year-old woman Legge brutally murdered in 2003. She and other family members do not want to see her aunt’s killer back in Stephenville — the place the crime was committed.
Lucas was Legge’s former partner. He was on probation for previously assaulting her and had been ordered by the courts to have no contact with her whatsoever when he broke into her Alabama Terrace apartment. He bludgeoned her with a metal pipe the night of Sept. 21, 2003.
McIsaac said a family member was informed Legge, who is now 82 years old, has applied to spend his remaining parole at West Bridge House, a co-ed community residential centre for adult offenders in Stephenville. She feels members of the community, particularly women, would be in danger if Legge was back in town.
According to the Parole Board of Canada, Legge was first granted six months of pre-release day parole in February. In August, the board assessed his case and renewed his day parole for another six months.
The decision information does not specify where Legge is incarcerated or where he will be serving his day parole. It does indicate that in July, he expressed the importance of being in contact with members of his family and that he did connect with a family member during his first period of day parole.
McIsaac attended Legge’s trial in 2005. She remembers the judge stating Legge will remain a dangerous man even in his advanced age.
“While Mr. Legge is now 66 years of age, I am not satisfied that his increasing age convinces me there will be less opportunity or ability for him to be dangerous in the future,” Justice Richard LeBlanc said, when he sentenced Legge in 2005. “While his physical capabilities may lessen with older age, his ability to cause death or harm by other means will remain a realistic and potential possibility.”
LeBlanc sentenced Legge to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 18 years from the date of his arrest shortly after the murder in 2003.
McIsaac said the Parole Board of Canada may feel Legge might not pose an undue risk to society on day parole, but her family doesn’t want him on the west coast, where family members are spread out, let alone in Stephenville.
“If we can’t see her face, we don’t want to see his,” she said.
McIsaac said her aunt was a very giving person, always laughing and smiling.
“She was a fixer of people, but she couldn’t fix him,” she said.
As a public health nurse, McIsaac advocates for health promotion and protection and can only imagine what negative impacts Legge’s release will have on the mental health of individuals, families and the community.
“I’m appalled at how hard we (family) have had to work to keep him in prison for this long,” she said.
NOT JUST THE VICTIM’S FAMILY CONCERNED
Lori Chaffey was working at the Medical Clinic in Cape St. George the day her co-worker Stephanie Cormier Chaisson was shot and killed by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide carried out at the clinic.
She spoke out about how horrific it would be to even consider reintegrating Legge back into the Stephenville community.
“I feel this decision comes as a total disregard to the family and all women who have, or haven’t, survived domestic abuse,” she said.
Chaffey believes it’s time to see changes to legislation to protect women, not the criminals who commit crimes against them.
“I feel (Legge’s) release at such an early time is more of a digression versus moving forward to improve legislation to protect women domestically abused,” she said.
Chaffey said Legge should not be allowed back in the community where the crime was committed even after his parole is done.
“We really need to make changes and, with this decision, it doesn’t seem change is occurring,” she said.
Janice Kennedy, executive director of the Bay St. George Status of Women Council, said there are a lot of scared women and she is concerned for vulnerable women who may not know Legge’s history.
Because of this and because Lucas was an Indigenous woman, the women’s council is partnering with the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network on a protest march Oct. 4 from Blanche Brook Park down Main Street to the Lions Club.
The march, which starts at 6 p.m. will coincide with the Sisters in Spirit vigil in honour of missing and murdered women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is being held in St. John’s by the St. John’s Native friendship Centre.
Women are encouraged to wear red shawls and many will have black handprints painted over their mouths to symbolize how they are silenced.
When contacted, neither the RCMP nor the John Howard Society, which operates West Bridge House, would comment about the Legge case. A representative of the John Howard Society said they don’t discuss individual cases or matters.
The Western Star made attempts to contact someone from Legge’s family, but no one contacted was willing to make any comments.
Ann Maria Lucas was murdered in her Stephenville home by her former partner in 2003.
Janice Kennedy, executive director of the Bay St. George Women’s Council, is concerned for vulnerable women if Robert Hilroy Legge serves his parole in Stephenville.
Convicted murderer Robert Hilroy Legge is seen arriving at provincial court in Stephenville in 2003 photo.