Day parole granted to man convicted in Sydney River McDonald's murders

This former McDonald's restaurant in Sydney River, N.S., was the scene of a triple murder in 1992. One of the men serving a life sentence for the crime has been granted day parole. (CBC - image credit)
This former McDonald's restaurant in Sydney River, N.S., was the scene of a triple murder in 1992. One of the men serving a life sentence for the crime has been granted day parole. (CBC - image credit)

One of the men involved in the brutal 1992 McDonald's murders in Sydney River, N.S., has been granted day parole.

Freeman McNeil, who was 21 at the time, is serving a life sentence for his role in the killing of three employees and critical injury of another during a robbery at the fast-food restaurant.

He was convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, forcible confinement and robbery.

In a recent decision, the Parole Board of Canada says McNeil has a low-to-moderate likelihood of committing another violent crime.

He has been easing back into society, being allowed out of prison for unescorted day trips once a month for the last three years.

According to the decision, McNeil made off with "a mere $2,000," but played "a crucial role" in the incident by supplying a handgun, the escape vehicle, rope and a club, although McNeil denies providing a gun or knowing one of his accomplices was carrying one.

Social success viewed as positive

The board also says McNeil has had some professional counselling during his prison term, but has had "no meaningful periods of psychological counselling."

However, it says the psychologist views McNeil's chances of social success as positive.

The board granted him day parole for six months, with conditions that include staying out of Nova Scotia. The board does not release the location of parolees.

Earlier this year, Derek Anthony Wood, described as the mastermind of the plot to rob the McDonald's on May 7, 1992, was denied parole after the board decided he was too high a risk to reoffend.

According to court records, Wood shot and killed restaurant employees Neil Burroughs, 29; James Fagan, 27; and Donna Warren, 22.

A fourth employee, 20-year-old Arlene MacNeil, was shot in the head and left severely disabled. She died in 2018.

The third accomplice in the crime, Darren Muise, was granted full parole 10 years ago.

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