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Man who murdered Montreal teen using ‘faint hope clause’ to seek early release

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Man who murdered Montreal teen using ‘faint hope clause’ to seek early release
WATCH: A man who murdered a Montreal teenager back in 2006 is pushing for an early release from prison. Sebastian Simon was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for 25 years after being convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of 17-year-old Brigitte Serre 15 years ago. As Dan Spector reports, he is attempting to use the "faint hope clause" to get early access to parole – Aug 8, 2021

A man who murdered a Montreal teenager back in 2006 is pushing for an early release from prison.

Sebastian Simon was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for 25 years after being convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of 17-year-old Brigitte Serre 15 years ago. He is attempting to use the “faint hope clause” to get early access to parole.

“This is torture,” said Darlene Ryan, Brigitte Serre’s stepmother. She and others in Serre’s family say they’re on a personal mission to make sure Simon stays behind bars as long as possible.

“The pathologist said she had so many injuries, we don’t even know which one killed her. It’s taking all my strength not to break down right now,” Ryan told Global News.

READ MORE: Man serving life sentence for murder of Brigitte Serre denied request for supervised outings

Simon was 18 years old when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2006.

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In both 2019 and 2020, Simon asked the parole board to be allowed supervised visits outside prison walls to visit his wife, who he married since being incarcerated.

Both times, Ryan and other members of Serre’s family read victim impact statements before the parole board, explaining through tears how the murder shattered their lives and ended Brigitte’s far too soon.

Both times, his request was rejected.

“It’s just, you’re just going through it all the time, and all the time with the same results. You still have to go through all of the pain,” Ryan explained.

Click to play video: 'Family of murdered teen furious over COVID-19 parole board rules'
Family of murdered teen furious over COVID-19 parole board rules

Serre died after being stabbed 72 times. When Simon appealed the 2020 parole board decision to reject his request for supervised visits, one of his arguments was that the board had given too much importance to the victims’ statements.

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“We’re crying, and we’re talking about losing Brigitte and they thanked us, but that bothered him as well. That was just a slap in the face,” said Ryan.

The board rejected Simon’s appeal in May of this year, but he has another parole hearing where he’ll again ask for supervised visits coming up on Aug. 31.

READ MORE: Family of murdered Montreal teen angered by COVID-19 parole board rules

In early September, Simon will pursue a new avenue in his quest to be released that is again bringing pain to Serre’s family.

“It’s how dare you to him and how dare you to the system to allow him to do this to us,” said Ryan.

Quebec’s Crown prosecutors’ office confirms to Global News that Simon has filed for a judicial review, also known as the “faint hope clause.” A hearing is set for Sept. 10.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton court begins rare ‘faint hope hearing’'
Edmonton court begins rare ‘faint hope hearing’

“When you look internationally, Canada is actually on the very harsh end of punishing murder,” said Debra Parkes, a law professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.

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The clause allows murderers sentenced to life to apply for parole after 15 years instead of 25. It was implemented after Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976 and replaced it with mandatory life sentences for murder.

Read more: Backgrounder: the “faint hope clause”

The clause was repealed in the Stephen Harper-era in 2011 but still applies to anyone convicted beforehand.

“When people don’t have hope for relief, they can be more difficult to manage in in a correctional context,” said Parkes, explaining that the possibility of an early release can help prisoners in their rehabilitation.

Simon needs to convince first a judge, then a jury, then the parole board, that he should be allowed to leave prison early.

“Seventy-six per cent of judicial review hearings result in earlier parole and eligibility parole eligibility,” said Parkes.

Ryan does not believe Simon should get access to early parole.

“I guess some people can be rehabilitated, but when you’ve beaten somebody to a pulp and stabbed them 72 times, I don’t think you’ve been rehabilitated after 15 years,” she said.

Though she knows it will reignite her trauma, Ryan plans to testify against Simon at the hearing.

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The murdered girl’s family says they owe it to Brigitte.

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