Parole board members’ inexperience possible factor in Quebec woman’s death, former members say

Quebec's Minister of Justice Sonia LeBel told reporters she was extremely concerned by the facts surrounding the death of Marylène Lévesque, a sex worker allegedly killed by 51-year-old Eustachio Gallese in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Two former Parole Board of Canada members say a change that resulted in the hiring of inexperienced members may have been a factor in the murder of a 22-year-old woman allegedly killed by a man previously convicted of murder and out on parole.

Dave Blackburn and Jean-Claude Boyer both say changes brought in by the federal government in 2017 meant that the vast majority of the existing board members were replaced with people without prior experience.

READ MORE: Federal investigation ordered into parolee accused of killing woman in Quebec City

Blackburn and Boyer say that inexperience may have played into the 2019 decision to renew the day parole of 51-year-old Eustachio Gallese, who is accused of killing Marylène Lévesque in Quebec City last week.

In 2006, Gallese was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 15 years, after he killed his 32-year-old partner by beating her with a hammer before repeatedly stabbing her.

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Boyer says an experienced board member would have revoked Gallese’s parole upon learning that a man with a history of violence against women had been given permission by his case worker to frequent sex workers.

READ MORE: Quebec demands answers after convicted killer out on parole allegedly kills again

Blackburn, agrees, noting the board expressed concern with the strategy but failed to act to protect women like Levesque who work in the sex trade, essentially relegating them to second-class citizens.

The Commissioner of Corrections Services and the chair of the Parole Board of Canada have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Gallese’s release.

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