Sébastien Simon told a Parole Board of Canada hearing today he's conscious his reintegration into society is a long and steep road after his murder conviction in 2007. But he believes he has done the work to be allowed escorted day visits.
Simon was convicted for the 2006 murder of Brigitte Serre in the gas station where she worked, in Montreal's Saint-Léonard borough.
Dressed in a blue, long-sleeved polo shirt, Simon, 34, answered calmly as he took questions from commissioners with the parole board. He had short, cropped hair and a small tattoo was visible above his left eyebrow.
Simon is attempting, for a third time, to convince them he should be allowed to leave prison for temporary, escorted outings.
The hearing was held via videoconference.
'I can't erase anything from the past'
"I don't want my crime to end up as 'I took someone's life and that's it'", said Simon. "I want to make sense of it, for myself and for others, that you can do something that's unthinkable, and that you're still able to change."
Simon said he is no longer is the same violent person who repeatedly stabbed, beat and kicked Serre, who was a teenager, to death.
"I know it's a bad image, I can't erase anything from the past. That's what happened," he said. "I'm someone now who is able to give, to be kind and loving."
He told the commissioners he now knows what his triggers are, and how to recognize when he might lose control. Simon said he is often confronted with difficult situations in prison, but he now knows how to step back from those scenarios and remain calm.
Simon, who married while serving his sentence, is asking for six escorted visits a year to go to his wife's home. He's also asking permission to be escorted into the community to do volunteer work, once a week.
His parole officer, Karl Mooney, said Simon's plan for outings is supported by the director of the minimum security prison where he's currently incarcerated, by his case management team and by the psychologists who evaluated him.
"He understands the gravity of his offence, has not denied his responsibility in it and has taken steps during his sentence," said Mooney.
When asked if he had anything to say after being questioned by the commissioners, Simon declined to comment.
Family of victim opposes day outings
But Serre's family members, also in attendance at the hearing, told the board's commissioners they don't believe he has done the necessary work to re-enter society.
"Why does he make these requests twice a year?" asked Anna Lisa Repele, Brigitte's mother. "Why does he keep on with this harassment?"
Repele said even in prison, he's managed to run afoul of the rules as evidenced by the tattoos he's had done.
"On January 25, 2006, my life got turned upside down," said Bruno Serre, Brigitte's father. "Sébastien Simon made a decision that changed my life, and that of my family, forever."
"I don't think that he should have permission for these outings. You can't ignore the seriousness and the tenacity of his attack on Brigitte. Why give him a second chance? Brigitte never had one."
The commissioners said they will release a written report with their decision within two weeks.