A man serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of a 17-year-old Montreal girl in 2006 was before the Parole Board of Canada Wednesday for the fourth time.
Sebastien Simon stabbed Brigitte Serre 72 times at the Saint-Leonard gas station where she worked during a robbery gone wrong.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Sixteen years later, he believes he’s ready to have supervised visits with his wife of five years and to do community service weekly.
“As a parent and as a victim, it’s just disgusting to hear him,” said Darlene Ryan, stepmother of Brigitte Serre.
Since 2019 Simon has repeatedly tried to get supervised visits, and Serre’s family has delivered emotional victim impact statements to the Parole Board each time.
“I know we say it every time, but it’s emotionally draining,” said Ryan. “It’s specifically hard hearing our other daughters doing their testimonials.”
Now 34, Simon says his time behind bars has taught him how to better manage his emotions. He feels ready to begin his gradual re-insertion into society.
If allowed to volunteer in the community, he said he does worry about being recognized but believes he’s ready to deal with that stress.
Serre’s family thinks he should serve the entirety of his sentence behind bars.
“You decided at the age of 18 that you’re going to go to jail. That’s your decision, not mine. So now your house is there,” said Bruno Serre, Brigitte Serre’s father.
When asked to make sense of his heinous crime by the parole board, Simon pointed to a childhood riddled with abuse. He said it took him days to realize what he had done.
“It’s not everybody that had a bad childhood that goes and kills somebody by stabbing them 72 times,” said Ryan. “My other daughter mentioned as well during her victim impact statement that she was 13 when Brigitte was killed. Do you think she had an easy childhood?”
Serre’s family feels Simon forgets she was the victim, and only cares about himself. They told the parole board Brigitte will never be able to build a family like her killer is eager to do.
In her victim impact statement, Serre’s sister Jessica Guimond said she has nightmares about him being released. She said she feels he has no respect for the family of his victim, and that he’s playing the system for his own gain.
“He wants us to think he’s the victim,” Bruno Serre told Global News.
Simon’s lawyer Isabel Simao said her client is a totally different man now compared to when he first entered prison, and wants to do good.
Serre’s family feels otherwise.
“I truly believe he’s a psychopath. He has no emotions. He just says what they want to hear,” said Ryan.
The parole board will render a decision in the next 15 days.
Simon has also sought an early release using the rare “faint hope clause,” but the request was rejected by Justice France Charbonneau.
Simon will be appealing that decision.