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Cop killer Clinton Suzack’s claims of COVID-19 health risk don’t get him day parole

Parole board upholds denial of day parole for man who killed Sudbury police officer in 1993
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The Parole Board of Canada Appeal Division upheld a decision to deny day parole for Clinton Suzack, seen at left in this file photo, alongside his accomplice, Peter Pennett. They were sentenced for the 1993 first-degree murder of Sudbury Police Const. Joe MacDonald. (File)

The Parole Board of Canada Appeal Division upheld a decision to deny day parole for Clinton Suzack, the man sentenced for the 1993 first-degree murder of Sudbury Police Const. Joe MacDonald.

Suzack, who was sentenced to life for his role in the officer’s death, was denied day parole on April 1. He appealed the decision, citing the fact the board failed to address the health-related implications of his medical condition, and that he is at a higher risk of serious health complications if he was to contract COVID-19.

Suzack also argued the board did not take into consideration a reasonable alternative to incarceration that, in his case, would mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19.

In his appeal, Suzack said the board’s decision results in his unfair imprisonment and infringes upon his liberty interests under the Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Appeal Division said it noted a link between COVID-19 and the potential serious consequences to Suzack’s health was initially flagged in a March 30 email from Suzack’s assistant to the Parole Board of Canada. The email contained no supporting arguments or case-relevant information about the virus, but it did have several media excerpts and highlighted sections of public health articles.

However, the Appeal Division said while Suzack’s assistant raised the health-related issues in her address to the Parole Board, Suzack did not speak to them or any other concerns about COVID-19 before the Parole Board adjourned to deliberate. 

The Appeal Board said when reviewing applications, it reviews the case that was before the board at the time of decision. Therefore, any new information won’t be considered. Therefore, the Appeal Division cannot take Suzack’s claims in his appeals letter about his health-related issues into consideration.

Suzack did not raise arguments that warrant intervention on the division’s part, it ruled.

“Although the board did not address your health-related issues in its decision, the appeal division finds that it would not have been a determinative factor in light of the intelligible, thorough and reasonable risk assessment conducted by the board,” said the appeal division in its decision.  

“The appeal division finds that the board's conclusion was reasonable, justifiable, transparent and intelligible because of its supporting analysis which was based on relevant, reliable, and persuasive information.”

In 2019, Suzack applied for day parole to an unspecified location that would permit him to be close to family and social resources. It was denied, but he appealed and was granted another hearing that took place in December.

That led to the April 1 hearing, when Suzack was again denied day parole, and his subsequent appeal, which was the subject of this decision.