Correctional services missed warning signs ahead of Quebec City woman’s murder: report

Click to play video 'Marylène Levesque murder: CSC commissioner calls Eustachio Gallese parole ‘entirely inappropriate’' Marylène Levesque murder: CSC commissioner calls Eustachio Gallese parole ‘entirely inappropriate’
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) on Wednesday discussed results of a federal investigation into the murder of Marylène Levesque by Eustachio Gallese, calling the parole strategy for the latter "entirely inappropriate." Anne Kelly, the CSC commissioner said "not enough information has been shared in this case" and made several recommendations. Levesque, 22, who had been working at an erotic massage parlour, was killed in a hotel in Sainte-Foy in January of 2020 while the 51-year-old Gallese was on day parole – Jan 21, 2021

Correctional authorities will change how federal offenders on day parole are managed in Quebec following recommendations in a report released Thursday into the murder of Marylène Lévesque nearly one year ago.

A joint investigation by corrections and parole officials into the management of Eustachio Gallese’s case found there were warning signs his case management team did not properly assess.

Lévesque, 22, was found dead Jan. 22 in a Quebec City hotel room, stabbed numerous times by Gallese.

Gallese had met Lévesque, a sex worker, in June 2019 during visits to an erotic massage parlour for sexual purposes — something he was granted permission to do by a parole officer, despite his history of domestic violence.

The permission was subsequently revoked by the Parole Board of Canada in September 2019, but when he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder last February, Gallese told a judge he didn’t abide by the edict. Gallese was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years for Lévesque’s killing.

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READ MORE: Quebec City man faces first-degree murder charge in death of sex worker

During that hearing, the court heard that Gallese began to develop a “certain attachment” to Lévesque, but had become jealous and obsessed and feared rejection when he stabbed her 30 times before turning himself in hours later.

At the time, Gallese had been serving a sentence for second-degree murder in the killing of his ex-spouse in 2004.

Click to play video 'Warning signs were missed prior to murder of Marylène Lévesque: report' Warning signs were missed prior to murder of Marylène Lévesque: report
Warning signs were missed prior to murder of Marylène Lévesque: report – Jan 21, 2021

Public Security Minister Bill Blair, who joined the heads of the Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board to discuss the report Thursday, said Lévesque’s death was preventable.

“The board of investigation has identified shortcomings in the case management and supervision of the offender while he was in the community,” Blair told a virtual news conference.

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“This was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened, and Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada are taking very significant steps to make sure it never happens again.”

The head of the Correctional Service of Canada said it does not approve delinquents having access to sexual services. Anne Kelly told a news conference that in 37 years at the service, it’s not something she had heard of.

“The community supervision strategy in this case was completely inappropriate,” Kelly said, noting a Canada-wide review of community release strategies was conducted after Levesque’s killing.

Click to play video 'Focus Montreal: Violence against sex workers' Focus Montreal: Violence against sex workers
Focus Montreal: Violence against sex workers – Feb 2, 2020

In response to the report, the Correctional Service of Canada says that it will be taking control of all aspects of community supervision of federal offenders in Quebec to create a single system in the country.

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Quebec was the only province where the model of supervision allowed staff at community residential facilities to supervise parolees — an arrangement that had existed for 40 years.

But the report noted “the community supervision model in place in Quebec led to shortcomings in how this case was managed,” with confusion regarding roles and responsibilities between the halfway house and the correctional service.

The supervision of roughly 155 federal offenders in Quebec currently overseen by staff outside the Correctional Service of Canada will revert to the federal agency.

“At this point, what I’d like to see is a uniform model across the country in terms of the supervision of federal offenders in Canada,” Kelly said.

The federal corrections agency oversees about 9,400 paroled offenders in communities across the country, including about 2,000 in Quebec.

READ MORE: Advocate says murder of Quebec sex worker reveals hypocrisy of prostitution law

The report also called for better collection and sharing of information on offenders and better followup with contacts, such as family and acquaintances, to evaluate risks an offender might pose. Parole officers will have to undergo intimate partner violence training as well.

The report did not include any recommendations for the Parole Board of Canada but did note that while Gallese was told not to go to massage parlours for sexual services, the written decision didn’t emphasize that aspect. That discrepancy wasn’t considered a factor in the killing.

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However, the Parole Board of Canada has requested members undergo refresher courses on writing decisions, with a focus on consistency between oral instructions and what ends up in writing.

In a joint statement, Conservative party members, Shannon Stubbs and Pierre Paul-Hus, shadow ministers for public safety and public service, took aim at the Liberals.

“We are dismayed and concerned by the issues identified in the report looking into the senseless murder of Marylène Levesque,” the statement reads. “There are serious, ongoing issues in our corrections system that the Liberal government is responsible for fixing.”

“A dangerous criminal who brutally murdered his wife, Chantale Deschênes, should not have been granted parole in the first place. The fact that this same individual was then allowed unsupervised visits with other women while on parole, and then committed the brutal murder of Marylène Levesque, is indefensible.”

The pair called on both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Blair to take immediate action “to ensure that dangerous criminals are not in a position where they can harm innocent Canadians.”

They pointed to gaps in intelligence sharing identified in the report to suggest that “other dangerous criminals could slip through the cracks.”

Stubbs and Paul-Hus said officials will be facing tough questions from Conservatives on Monday, when the Standing Committee on Public Security will be discussing the issue.

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— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier