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Killer denied parole

But will be allowed to attend an off-site life-skills program

The man convicted of killing a young New Westminster woman 20 years ago has been denied day parole but he'll be able to leave prison temporarily.

A parole hearing was held at William Head Institution on Vancouver Island on Sept. 6 for Wayne Alexander Perkin, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994 for the killing of Angela Richards.

Ben Doyle, a longtime friend of Richards, said the Parole Board of Canada approved his request to attend a 60-day highintensity life skills program. He had also sought day parole so he could go to coffee shops and get his driver's license, but the parole board denied that request.

Doyle said more details about the parole board's decision will be known when the full written decision is released.

Richards, who had moved to Langley where she was training to become a helicopter pilot, was murdered in her Langley apartment in June 1992. Perkin, who lived with his wife in the apartment across the hall from Richards, was convicted of second-degree murder in May 1994 and sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 18 years.

Richards, a former Miss New Westminster, had attended Lord Kelvin Elementary School and New Westminster Secondary School. The Crown's theory was that Richards was killed on Saturday, June 13, 1992, after being struck in the head and then repeatedly stabbed.

Doyle, one of four people who read victim impact statements at the hearing, is pleased with the decision. Perkin had requested day parole so he could get his driver's license and go to a coffee shop.

"Day parole would have been a loss," he said. "In my heart of hearts, I didn't believe he had a chance to get that - not once he was denying the crime."

Doyle said he personally doesn't have a problem with Perkin being given permission to leave the minimum-security facility to attend a 60-day program.

"If there is anything that can be done to lessen his risk to society, good," he said. "It is not like a 60-day period where he is free to roam everywhere. It is a very specific thing."

The "aboriginal elder assisted" hearing took place in a Salmon House on the minimum-security institution's grounds. Following a brief healing ceremony led by an elder, the parole board then heard from various members of Perkin's support team (including his parole officer and his AA sponsor), Richards' mother Lorna, sister Corinne Schaefer and brother-in-law Ron, Doyle and Perkin.

According to Doyle, Perkin stated that he feels he's ready for day parole and has a strong support network. He said it's likely Perkin will eventually get parole, but he'd feel better and less angry if Perkin would take responsibility and stop denying Richards' murder.

Corinne Schaefer said the aboriginal elder made it clear that freedom only truly comes with admitting the truth. She said family members hope it will be at least 18 months before they need to attend the next parole hearing.

The Parole Board of Canada's website states that all offenders must be considered for some form of conditional release during their sentence, under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It's the parole board's job to assess the offenders' risk when they become eligible for all types of conditional release.

According to the website, offenders can apply for various types of release: temporary absences (which can be escorted or unescorted so they can review medical treatment, visit with their families, undergo personal development and/or counselling etc.); day parole (where they would return to an institution or halfway house in the evening); full parole (which requires them to report regularly to a parole supervisor).

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