EDMONTON – A federal detention review hearing has ruled Allyson McConnell, convicted in the death of her two young boys, will remain in the custody of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) until she leaves for Australia Monday. Until then, she is being held at Alberta Hospital.
During the hearing, which took less than ten minutes, McConnell spoke only twice. She responded to the adjudicator via telephone, confirming she understood the proceedings.
“She is about to be returned to Australia within a matter of just a few days,” explained McConnell’s lawyer Peter Royal. “So we would consent to an order detaining her until her removal.”
McConnell’s status as a prisoner ended Thursday. Therefore, a certificate is required in order to keep her at Alberta Hospital.
Mandeep Randhawa, a representative of the Canadian Border Services Agency said the department is not aware of any impediments to McConnell’s removal next week.
Royal said he and Randhawa came to an agreement and jointly proposed that McConnell be detained until her departure.
“When the conviction was recorded and she was sentenced, we knew that a removal order would then be forthcoming,” said Royal. “And my instructions were not to, in any way, challenge the removal order. She is anxious, in fact, to return to Australia which is her home country.”
The ruling comes as the Government of Alberta fights to keep the Millet mother in the country. Alberta Justice is appealing both McConnell’s conviction and her sentence, arguing she should have been convicted of a more serious charge, or her manslaughter sentence should have been longer.
Given the outstanding appeals, Alberta’s Justice Minister is fighting to keep McConnell in Alberta, worried that if she is deported it may be difficult to bring her back to Canada.
“To be quite frank, I was shocked that she would be leaving the country before the appeal had been heard,” Jonathan Denis said Thursday afternoon. “Our goal has always been that she would remain in custody, or remain in Alberta, and answer for her crimes.”
In a written statement, federal Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews said “I am pleased that the Immigration and Refugee Board has continued the detention of Allyson McConnell and it will be reviewed within seven days. On April 5th, my office was advised by officials of the Alberta Government that Ms. McConnell, convicted of manslaughter in the death of her two sons and sentenced to a jail term of 15 months in provincial custody, has earned remission of her sentence. She therefore is free of any restriction in relation to her crimes,” explained Toews.
“It is unfortunate that the Alberta Government did not act prior to Ms. McConnell’s release in order to prevent this situation from occurring. I have also been advised that the Alberta Government is taking no further steps to apply to the Alberta Court of Appeal to restrict Ms. McConnell’s movements pending the outcome of the appeal.”
“As Ms. McConnell is the subject of a valid removal order and would otherwise be free of any sentence or restriction in Canada, CBSA will be required by law to proceed with the presently scheduled removal on Monday evening. In the event that the Alberta Government commences judicial proceedings prior to Ms. McConnell’s removal I will reconsider whether it is appropriate to stay her removal.”
However, press secretary to Minister Denis says there are several inaccuracies in what Toews has stated.
“The fact that (Toews is) implying that they only found out about this on April 5th, it’s simply not true. There was a deportation order put together by the federal government going as far back as October 2012, so to say that they just learned about this simply isn’t true. There’s no way they couldn’t have known about this if there’s a deportation order in place,” Josh Stewart said Friday evening.
In response to Toews’ comment that “it is unfortunate that the Alberta Government did not act prior to Ms. McConnell’s release,” Stewart says “we had no way to know that she would be released on good behaviour. We can’t control how a prisoner behaves in a correctional facility. So, there’s no way we could have controlled this or moved on this any sooner than we have.”
Stewart says despite the deportation order, Alberta Justice will go ahead with the two appeals to McConnell’s case.
“It’s important to us that justice is served here in Alberta, so if it means the appeals are successful and we do an extradition, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Stewart says he hopes the statement by Toews isn’t the federal government “throwing in the towel” on keeping McConnell in Canada.
“It’s certainly not the case for Alberta Justice. We’re going to keep fighting to keep her here until she’s on that plane,” Stewart added.
In response to Friday’s ruling, prior to what Toews stated, Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis released the following statement:
“It is important not to lose sight of the fact that two young boys were the victims in this case. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General pursues justice for all of society, including our children – who are among our most vulnerable citizens and must be protected from harm. In this case, the Prosecution Service secured manslaughter convictions and is actively pursuing appeals, being of the view that convictions for murder is the just result or that the sentence imposed for the manslaughter convictions was inadequate.
Whether Ms. McConnell is removed from Canada is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. I have spoken to Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney about this matter. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General would prefer Ms. McConnell to remain in Alberta pending the outcome of these appeals. Whether or not Ms. McConnell remains in Canada, Albertans can be assured that the Prosecution Service is pressing ahead with these appeals and will continue to seek justice in this case.”
Allyson McConnell was sentenced at the beginning of June in a Wetaskiwin courtroom for the deaths of her two sons, 2-year-old Connor and 10-month-old Jayden. She was sentenced to six years for each boy’s death, to be served concurrently. She also received two-for-one credit for her time in custody. In the end, her sentence was reduced to 15 months, which meant McConnell could be finished serving her sentence after ten months, which was April 4, 2013.
Alberta Justice confirmed that as of April 4, 2013 McConnell had finished serving her sentence.
McConnell’s former husband, Curtis McConnell, issued a statement Thursday, saying he’s upset he was never formally made aware of his ex-wife’s possible release date and deportation order.
“Why has the Justice department felt a need to leave me, my family and the Canadian public in the dark with what was going on with the Allyson (Meager) McConnell case? Why was there a need to keep this quiet? As the father of two murdered children I think I deserve a phone call explaining what is going on. To this day I am still waiting for that phone call. It is a shame that victims of crime must struggle to obtain information like this. Changes need to be made to prevent circumstances like this,” Curtis McConnell wrote.
On Wednesday, after hearing the news of McConnell’s deportation, Curtis McConnell gave the following statement to Global News:
“I am the father of two murdered sons. I have recently discovered through my civil lawyer that Allyson (Meager) McConnell the person who murdered my babies and never once apologized during her trial is being released. She will be flying home to Australia within the next few days (possibly as early as April 4th) after serving 10 months of her 12 year sentence (6 years per child to run concurrently).
Repeatedly during the past 2 months I have tried to get a hold of the busy crown prosecutor and have been unsuccessful. My family and I have been left in the dark. I am now turning to the media with the hope of getting some answers.
I am not sure if Allyson is free once she lands in Australia. Will anyone there know about the murders she committed here? Being only 34 years old will she start a new family and have another child in her care? I am appalled that a person who kills two innocent children and leaves their dead bodies (for her husband to find) next to the wedding ring she hadn’t worn in months has only served 10 months. It is true that nothing will bring my beautiful and sweet boys back.
It was my understanding that 2 for 1 credit is given to those inmates that have had to endure overcrowded remand centers. The fact is Allyson has never seen the inside of a jail cell and has only served 10 months in hospital since her sentencing. This is unacceptable.”
McConnell’s sentence was handed down June 4.
During the trial, court heard McConnell and her husband were in the middle of a divorce and that she wanted to take her children back to Australia.
At the time of the trial, the Crown had launched an appeal of the manslaughter convictions. There is no word on where the appeal stands.
More to come…
With files from Erin Chalmers, Global News and The Canadian Press.