A man serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of a 17-year-old Montreal girl in 2006 has been granted temporary day release.
Sebastien Simon, 34, appeared before the Parole Board of Canada for the fourth time on Wednesday, seeking escorted absences from prison to visit his wife of five years and perform community service.
After review, the Parole Board approved both requests, agreeing to a maximum of six supervised family visits over the next year, as well as weekly outings to do community service.
Simon will be allowed seven hours of leave per family visit including travel time. He must be accompanied by a correctional agent and travel in a Correctional Services Canada vehicle.
For outings related to community work, Simon will be allowed 12 hours of leave and must be escorted by a correctional agent or an accredited volunteer who has received specialized training.
Simon was 18 years old when he stabbed Brigitte Serre 72 times in a robbery gone wrong. It happened at a gas station in Saint-Leonard where Serre was working.
In 2007, Simon pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
In its decision, the Parole Board said escorted visits for Simon did not pose a level of unacceptable risk to society.
The board pointed to the fact that Simon has been in a minimum-security setting for several years with only one incident on record, as well as having had some 30 escorted visits to hospital that went well.
In 2019, Simon was deemed at a low risk to commit a violent offence in the context of supervised visits but a psychologist worried that setbacks or failures could lead to an increased risk of reoffending.
The board, however, noted that despite recent rejections, notably failure to obtain a judicial review for his case as well as successive refusals for escorted visits, Simon remained committed to and invested in his correctional plan and that he had grown in his ability to deal with setbacks.
Following Simon’s most recent evaluation, a psychologist concluded Simon could begin the process of reintegrating into society but that it needed to be gradual and start with escorted visits. The visits, according to the psychologist, would allow Simon to put into practice the skills he had acquired in prison.
Correctional Services Canada had recommended the board approve Simon’s request for escorted visits.
Over the years, Serre’s family has delivered numerous victim impact statements in a bid to keep her killer 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,” Brigitte’s father Bruno Serre told Global News on Wednesday.
It’s a process that has been emotionally draining for the family.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Darlene Ryan, Brigitte’s stepmother wrote in French that her heart was aching.
“We lost the case,” she continued in English. “Brigitte’s killer was granted “supervised outings to visit his wife and also do work in a non-profit organization. The whole thing makes me sick.”
Simon is prohibited from contacting, directly or indirectly, any members of Brigitte Serre’s family.
— with files from Global New’s Dan Spector