Bath, Ont. – Convicted rapist and killer Paul Bernardo has been denied early release.
A National Parole Board panel at the Millhaven Institution in eastern Ontario made the decision Wednesday after just 30 minutes of deliberation.
Bernardo has spent more than 25 years of his life sentence behind bars for kidnapping, torturing and killing two teen girls in the early 1990s.
The 54-year-old told the hearing he did dreadful things in the past that he cries over frequently, and argued he has improved himself.
WATCH: Reaction to parole denial of Paul Bernardo
The panel disagreed with the designated dangerous offender, who has been eligible for parole since February.
Bernardo has spent most of his incarceration in maximum-security isolation.
During his parole hearing, Bernardo says he cries every day over the crimes he committed.
He says that at the time, he felt justified in his savage behaviour, but no longer.
He says he had long suffered anxiety and performance issues and his crimes were an attempt to deal with that.
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, rapes and first-degree murders of two teen girls in the early 1990s.
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The designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole since February, having served 25 years behind bars.
“What I did was so dreadful. I hurt a lot of people,” Bernardo told parole board member Suzanne Poirier. “I cry all the time.”
Poirier said that to the parole board, Bernardo’s empathy seemed to be recent.
Bernardo’s crimes over several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some of which he videotaped, sparked widespread terror and revulsion.
Among them, Bernardo and his then-wife Karla Homolka kidnapped, tortured and killed Leslie Mahaffy, 14, of Burlington, Ont., in June 1991 at their home in Port Dalhousie, Ont., before dismembering her body, encasing her remains in cement and dumping them in a nearby lake.
Mahaffy’s mother, Debbie Mahaffy, described the unbearable, crushing pain the parole hearing has rekindled, saying the “unspeakable and brutally sadistic acts” Bernardo committed were too painful to describe.
“This is an emotional hell for us,” Mahaffy said, choking back tears.
Bernardo, dressed in a blue T-shirt, slouched in his chair and listened with little obvious emotion.
Dubbed the “Scarborough rapist,” Bernardo also tortured and killed Kristen French, 15, of St. Catharines, Ont., in April 1992 after keeping her captive for three days.
Kristen’s mother, Donna French, argued that Bernardo should never see freedom again.
“How does one describe such immeasurable pain so as to give even the slightest understanding of the overwhelming sadness, the emptiness, and pain we feel even after 26 years of dealing with our loss?” French said.
French also noted that the law was changed after Bernardo’s incarceration to allow for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.
One of Bernardo’s surviving victims also spoke at the hearing, describing how she was walking home on an evening in May 1988 when he attacked her from behind, dragged her into some bushes and raped her. The result has been emotional devastation from which she has never recovered, she said.
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“After the assault, I really became a shell of a person,” she said. “He should never be considered for any freedom for the rest of his life.”
Bernardo’s parole officer said he had made few if any gains during his time behind bars.