One of three men convicted in McDonald’s murders awarded unescorted absences  

Freeman MacNeil, along with two others – Darren Muise and Derek Wood – robbed the MacDonald’s restaurant in Sydney River, N.S., on May 7, 1992. File/Global News

One of the three men who was involved in the 1992 McDonald’s murders in Sydney River, N.S., has been granted temporary unescorted absences from prison once a month.

Freeman Daniel MacNeil, now 51, is serving a life sentence for his role in the notorious murders that left three employees dead and a fourth critically injured.

MacNeil, who was 27 at the time of the murders, is serving the sentence for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, forcible confinement and robbery.

READ MORE: McDonald’s killer Darren Muise ‘financially secure’ and ‘living a good life’ on parole: documents

MacNeil, along with two others — Darren Muise and Derek Wood — robbed the MacDonald’s restaurant in Sydney River, N.S., on May 7, 1992. During the robbery, employees Donna Warren, Jimmy Fagan and Neil Burroughs were fatally shot in the head.

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A fourth victim, Arleen MacNeil, was also shot but survived. She died at the age of 46 last year.

In a decision dated Nov. 5, 2019, the Parole Board of Canada found that MacNeil will be granted one temporary absence a month from the institution for two months for “personal development.”

The objective of the absences, the document states, is for MacNeil to familiarize himself with the area where he’ll be staying on day parole.

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The board hopes the unescorted temporary absences will help MacNeil “maintain relationship and interpersonal skills” and to “attend some hobbies and activities related to [his] reintegration.”

The prison where MacNeil is incarcerated was redacted from the report.

The board decision notes that MacNeil was granted his first escorted temporary absence in May 2016, with the escort taking place that September. Since then, the documents dates, MacNeil has participated in approximately 300 escorted temporary absences.

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The escorted temporary absences lasted between eight and 12 hours, the document states.

“The CSC reports that with the exception of one time in 2017, when you brought back chocolate and coffee that you had been authorized to consume on the premises of the organization but not to keep, all the absences have gone well and were never cancelled or suspended,” the board decision reads.

READ MORE: McDonald’s killer Darren Richard Muise to get day parole

The decision also notes that MacNeil has acknowledged his criminal behavior and has matured since when he committed the crimes, although he maintains he didn’t know that one of the other offenders was carrying a firearm until the robbery was underway.

“The information in your file indicates that you express remorse and regret for the direct victims and for their families and friends,” the board states.

“You stated that you would respect their wish that you do not return to Nova Scotia.”

MacNeil has been eligible for day parole since May 2014 and for full parole since May 2017.

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