Day parole revoked for man who killed N.L. woman and let her son take the fall

·3 min read

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland and Labrador man who killed his childhood friend's mother and then let him go to jail for it had his parole revoked after an emotional hearing Friday.

Brian Doyle learned his new-found freedoms were coming to an end — at least for three months — through a teleconference screen as he sat in a room in British Columbia. Greg Parsons, whose mother he killed in 1991, and who was wrongfully convicted in her death, signed in from St. John's.

Parsons read a victim impact statement in which he described the horrors of finding his 45-year-old mother, Catherine Carroll, dead in her St. John's home, slashed 53 times with a knife. He was 19 at the time.

"I'm here walking around the house with goosebumps," Parsons told The Canadian Press shortly after the decision was announced. "She was robbed of her justice, robbed of her dignity, but I guarantee you, one at a time, I'm getting it back for her."

Carroll was killed on Jan. 2, 1991. Nine days after he found her dead, Parsons was charged with her death and was convicted of second-degree murder in 1994. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and served six weeks before he was granted bail on appeal. Two years later, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal set aside the conviction and called for a new trial.

In 1998, Parsons was exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence. Doyle, Parsons' childhood friend, stayed quiet the entire time. He wound up confessing to an undercover police officer and was convicted in 2003. A judge gave him a life sentence with eligibility for parole after 18 years. Those 18 years passed and he was granted day parole last spring. Friday's hearing was called to determine whether it would continue.

As Parsons read his statement at the parole hearing Friday, Doyle sat motionless, staring down at his folded hands. Later in the proceedings, he cried, saying he apologized for the devastation he'd wrought.

"I'm just extremely sorry," Doyle said.

Ryan Nash, a member of the Parole Board of Canada, said the hearing was convened because there were concerns about Doyle's behaviour. In particular, he had started a relationship with a woman — which included going to her home — and didn't tell his parole supervisor, as per his release conditions.

"You breached a very serious, very specific and significant condition on your order, that is very much risk-relevant in your case," Nash told him. "You lied and were dishonest with the program staff and you were dishonest with your parole supervisor."

Parsons acknowledged the revocation of Doyle's day parole is perhaps a small win — "a battle victory in the war," as he put it — but it's a victory nonetheless, he said.

As for the larger "war," the decision to revoke Doyle's parole can be re-examined in 90 days, he said. Parsons admits that means he may have to deliver another victim impact statement and face the man who killed his mom all over again.

But he'll do it, he said, adding that he'll never stop fighting for justice for his mother.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press