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Robert Latimer wins court battle over parole restrictions

09/17/2014 08:51 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:55 EDT
A Federal Court judge has overturned a National Parole Board decision denying Robert Latimer the right to travel freely outside Canada.

In a ruling released Tuesday, Judge Michael Manson says the board and its appeal division acted unreasonably in refusing to lift a restriction requiring the 61-year-old to obtain pre-approval for international travel.

"The Board and Appeal Board did not exercise their broad discretion in a reasonable, transparent or intelligible manner," Manson writes. "The Board and Appeal Board cannot exercise discretion based on an arbitrary or punitive basis."

Convicted of second-degree murder

Latimer killed his severely disabled 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, in 1993 by piping exhaust fumes into the cab of his truck. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1997 and released from prison on day parole in 2008. He was granted full parole in 2010.

Latimer's application to lift the travel ban from his parole conditions was supported by Mary Campbell, former director general of corrections and criminal justice at Public Safety Canada. Campbell was one of the authors of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the legislation that governs the parole board.

Manson says the board is mandated to consider the least restrictive release possible for an offender, while maintaining concern for public safety. But Latimer's parole team believe his risk to the public is "non-existent."

The Office of the Attorney General argued the parole board's decision was reasonable because maintaining the travel ban fell within the range of "possible acceptable outcomes."

Latimer's lawyer, Jason Gratl, says his client is pleased with the outcome.

"It's excellent news for Robert Latimer. I think the message from the court was pretty clear that it's arbitrary and unreasonable to try to maintain or tack on extra conditions to try to make Mr. Latimer's life more difficult."

Manson ordered the parole board's appeal board to reconsider the case, using his decision as a guide.

Read the Federal Court decision. On mobile? Click here

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