Gripped with fear

Com­mu­nity con­cerned con­victed killer might re­turn.

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - FRANK GALE THE WEST­ERN STAR [email protected]­ern­star.com

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.

SUB­MIT­TED

Ann Maria Lu­cas was mur­dered in her Stephenvil­le home by her for­mer part­ner in 2003.

FRANK GALE/THE WEST­ERN STAR

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.

FILE/THE STAR

Con­victed mur­derer Robert Hil­roy Legge is seen ar­riv­ing at pro­vin­cial court in Stephenvil­le in 2003 photo.

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