Corrections officials have granted triple-murderer Jason Cofell full parole as he continues to reside and work in Peterborough.
According to documents obtained from the Parole Board of Canada, Cofell was granted full parole on Jan. 14 during a video conference held at the Canada Correctional Service’s parole office in Peterborough.
Cofell, 46, was sentenced to life in prison for three counts of first-degree murder in the Oct. 6, 1991 deaths of 18-year-old Jasen Pangburn and Pangburn’s grandparents, Alfred Critchley, 77, and Virginia Critchley, 73, all residents of Chatham.
Cofell was sentenced on Nov. 17, 1992 with no chance for parole until November 2016. Cofell’s request for early parole in 2007 was denied.
The parole board document noted in October 1991, Cofell, then 18, and a friend were trafficking firearms as part of a gang of teenagers. The pair lured Pangburn to woods near his home after learning Pangburn was going to inform police of their illegal activities. Cofell beat and shot Pangburn and buried his body, documents state. Cofell and the youth then went to Pangell’s home, where they fatally stabbed his grandparents.
Cofell testified he planned to make it
In 2014, Cofell was given several day passes to attend an undisclosed halfway house plus four “family contacts” in the Peterborough area for 12 months.
After 25 years in prison, Cofell was granted day parole in 2016, which included five days in the community and two days under supervision at a Peterborough halfway house.
The board at the time determined his institutional behaviour had been “positive,” documents note. A 2014 psychological risk assessment showed there was no change to his risk levels and he was presented as a “low risk to reoffend violently or non-violently.”
In its decision to grant full parole, the board noted there have been no concerns about or issues with Cofell since 2016. That includes no issues from the Peterborough Police Service, his mother, his community residential facility, his psychologist or a new apartment roommate who is aware of his criminal past, documents state.
During the hearing, the board noted that while Cofell did initially struggle with employment stability, he has been working at the same job for the past 18 months. In addition, he continues to work on his personal leather/jewelry business for a small supplemental income, all of which “made a positive adjustment to independent living on a full-time basis.”
In its conclusion, the board said Cofell recognizes he is “demonstrating a commitment to live as a law-abiding citizen.”
“It is the board’s opinion that you will not present an undue risk to society if released and that your release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating your reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen,” the board stated.
In an interview with The Chatham Daily News following the hearing, Cofell said too often people aren’t willing to believe inmates have the ability and desire to change.
“I believe that I spent my time in there wisely and spent a lot of time bettering myself so that when I do try to reintegrate — and am trying to reintegrate — that I’m able to manage and able to function within society, despite hurdles that are put up,” he said.
The Parole Board of Canada reminded Cofell of the victim impact statements on file that “attest to the immeasurable pain and suffering endured by the family of the three victims.”
It also placed a number of conditions and restrictions on Cofell, including no contact with the family of the victims, maintaining regular psychological counselling and not associating with anyone believed to be involved in criminal activity or involved with the Canadian Armed Forces.