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N.B. cop killer Anthony Romeo granted escorted trip for meditation class

Police lights.
Police lights. File / Global News

A convicted cop killer in New Brunswick has been granted an escorted trip from Dorchester Penitentiary to take a meditation class in nearby Moncton.

Anthony Romeo, who is now 56, is serving a life sentence for the shooting of Highway Patrol Const. Emmanuel Aucoin during a traffic stop in March 1987.

Romeo became eligible for full parole in 2012, but the Parole Board of Canada said at the time that he still posed a risk to the public. At that time, Aucoin’s daughter Valerie called Romeo’s apology worthless, saying he had killed both her father and her childhood.

During his 1988 trial, a psychiatrist said Romeo thought he was being followed by a monster who brutally killed young men, and he thought the 31-year-old Aucoin was that monster.

READ MORE: Woman taken to hospital after gunshots fired outside Moncton convenience store: RCMP

It was the third time Romeo had been stopped for speeding by police officers in Quebec and New Brunswick after fleeing the United States, where he was wanted for a murder in New York state.

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After killing Aucoin, Romeo fled back to the United States, where he was arrested by police at Logan Airport in Boston.

On Thursday, the parole board heard from Romeo and his parole officer on his progress – particularly with regard to his mental health.

Romeo told the board that at the time of the murders, he was suffering mental health issues and abusing drugs and alcohol.

“I was out of control,” he told the board.

“I was very sorry for what happened. I reacted without thinking,” Romeo said Thursday. “I knew if I returned home I’d face murder-two in New York.”

Romeo said after he was convicted in New Brunswick, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has since been on medications to treat it.

A parole officer said Romeo has been in minimum security at the Dorchester Penitentiary since 2016 and there have been no incidents.

“He’s a very quiet offender,” said the officer, who cannot be identified.

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The board was told that at this time, Romeo shows no signs of paranoid behaviour, and his risk to reoffend is considered to be at the low end of moderate.

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It heard that Romeo has taken a number of courses on violence prevention and dealing with anger, among them a course on landscaping and a Buddhist meditation class.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Romeo said, but noted the move to minimum security has made prison life easier, and he makes daily phone calls to his mother.

The instructor who has been holding meditation classes in the prison said he believed Romeo would get a lot out of being able to take a class in the community.

Dressed in a blue sweat shirt and jeans, Romeo appeared relaxed in his exchanges with the board members.

The hearing lasted just under an hour and the board needed just a few minutes to make a decision.

Romeo will be escorted by a corrections officer to the class for up to four hours, with up to an hour of travel time.

Upon hearing the ruling, he smiled broadly and thanked the two board members.

The date and exact location of his trip to Moncton will not be released.

Now that the parole board has approved an escorted temporary leave, the prison warden can approve further such leaves or escorted work outings.

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Any request for unescorted leaves, day parole or full parole will have to go before the parole board for a full hearing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.