Child sex offender Donnie Snook has parole board hearing this week

·3 min read
Former Saint John city councillor has a parole board hearing scheduled for this week. He's serving an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2013 to 46 child exploitation-related charges. (CBC - image credit)
Former Saint John city councillor has a parole board hearing scheduled for this week. He's serving an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2013 to 46 child exploitation-related charges. (CBC - image credit)

Former Saint John city councillor Donnie Snook will have a parole board hearing this week, according to the Parole Board of Canada.

Snook, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2013, is serving an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to 46 child exploitation-related charges involving 17 young males, spanning 12 years.

His crimes, ranging from extortion to sexual assault and making child pornography, shocked the Saint John neighbourhoods where he'd been a fixture, running a popular hot lunch program for children.

He also admitted to three child exploitation charges involving a boy in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Snook's sentence doesn't expire until November 2030, but he became eligible for day parole in December 2018 and full parole in June 2019, the parole board has previously said.

CBC News applied to observe any parole board hearings scheduled for Snook and was notified of the hearing by letter. A parole board spokesperson wouldn't confirm the nature of this week's hearing and hasn't yet confirmed the time and date of the hearing, saying the law prevents discussing specific cases.

"Information about an offender, such as whether or not they have made an application for conditional release or the purpose of a hearing are not generally disclosed by the Parole Board of Canada," spokesperson Lisa Saether wrote in an emailed statement.

"Exceptions are made are in accordance with the Privacy Act or as permitted in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, such as observer attendance at hearings."

'To have something written in seven days is asking a lot'

A parent of one of Snook's victims told CBC News they were given a week's notice of the hearing scheduled for this coming Friday.

CBC isn't naming the parent to protect the identity of their child. A publication ban prevents the release of any information that would reveal victims' identities.

The parent said seven days isn't enough time to travel to British Columbia to attend the hearing in person.

"Even to have something written in seven days is asking a lot, when it's something of this magnitude," the parent said.

Saether said people who've requested it receive information as soon as the application is approved and the hearing is scheduled.

Denied day parole in 2020

Snook was denied day parole in 2020, after the parole board concluded he would pose "an undue risk to society" if he were released.

A copy of the decision issued by the board in 2020 said a psychological assessment found Snook is a "moderate risk to reoffend."

The July 2020 decision also said Snook has "unaddressed/untested risk related to [his] deviant sexual interest in boys and [his] demonstrated competence in using deception to mask [his] risk and offending."

"The [parole] board remains deeply disturbed with the nature and severity of your index offences."

"You sexually offended against children who specifically were drawn to the programs you led because they were vulnerable and needed additional support and mentorship. You used your involvement in these programs and your respect and stature in the community to gain regular access to these young boys, gain their trust and the trust of their families in order to satisfy your deviant sexual desires."

CBC
CBC

Snook has previously been granted several escorted temporary absences while serving his sentence, including a 2019 trip to St. John's to attend his father's funeral and several outings in the Abbotsford, B.C., area, where Snook is believed to be serving his sentence, to attend church.

Had Snook been granted day parole in 2020, he'd been accepted to stay in a community residential centre in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, the decision said.

Snook's case management team had recommended he be granted day parole.

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