Drunk driver's parole shocks Wabush residents

People in western Labrador say they can't believe a drunk driver convicted of killing a man and seriously injuring a woman is getting day parole — just seven months into his sentence.

In December 2010, Jeremy Reid was driving drunk in Wabush when he struck down two people who were walking home from a party.

Shane Mercer died about two weeks after the incident, and his girlfriend Leisa Penney is still recovering from her injuries.

In April, Reid pleaded guilty to two charges, and was sentenced to four years in prison.

On Tuesday, he was granted day parole, and is staying at a halfway house in Stephenville.

Deanne Patey said she can't believe Reid is already out of jail. "Shane was a really good friend of mine and I think our system actually sucks," she said.

Patey said Penney is dealing with medical issues that will plague her for the rest of her life, and nothing will bring Mercer back. "So the lesson learned: you can drink and drive and kill somebody, and in seven months you can be out," she said.

Dave Mercer, Shane's father, said he's sick over the fact that Reid was granted day parole. "I never thought the justice department was so screwed up... I am totally disgusted with the whole system," he said. "Back when all this happened, I was told to let the court system handle this. I think that was the biggest mistake I ever [made]," said Mercer.

A prominent defence lawyer in St. John's is defending the decision to grant day parole to Reid.

Although attorney Bob Simmonds didn't represent Reid, he said the ruling isn't unusual, and that people should have confidence in the justice system.

"We have to hope a 29-year-old man can be rehabilitated," Simmonds said. "We have to hope that the courts attempt to achieve in sentencing someone — no matter what the offence — reformation, rehabilitation, balanced with deterrents, both specific and general," he said.

Reid could be granted full parole when his case is reviewed in five months.

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