POLITICS

Mayerthorpe Mounties: Hennessey, Cheeseman and their path to freedom

05/12/2015 03:47 EDT | Updated 05/12/2016 05:59 EDT
EDMONTON - A look at how the justice system has handled the shooting deaths of four Alberta Mounties.

July 9, 2007: Brothers-in-law Dennis Cheeseman, 23, and Shawn Hennessey, 28, are charged with four counts each of first-degree murder in the 2005 deaths of four Mounties in Mayerthorpe, Alta. The charges come after a lengthy police investigation that included a so-called "Mr. Big" sting. It's alleged the Barrhead, Alta., men helped gunman James Roszko by giving him a rifle and a ride to his farm on the night he ambushed and shot the officers in a Quonset hut before killing himself. Both men are eventually granted bail.

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Jan. 19, 2009: Hennessey and Cheeseman plead guilty to four counts each of manslaughter. Crown prosecutor David Labrenz tells court: "James Roszko would never have been able to commit these murders without the help of these accused. The two accused might as well have been inside the Quonset pulling the trigger themselves.''

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Jan. 30, 2009: Hennessey is sentenced to 15 years, less credit for his guilty plea and the time he has already spent in custody. In the end, he still faces just over 10 years in prison. Cheeseman is given 12 years, less the same credit, for a remaining sentence of slightly more than seven years.

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June 16, 2010: The two appeal their sentences. Defence lawyers call the sentences "savage and vengeful" and tell the Alberta Court of Appeal that Cheeseman and Hennessey were acting in terror of Roszko the night that they gave him a ride.

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Aug. 19, 2010: Hennessey and Cheeseman are denied standing at a fatality inquiry into the Mayerthorpe shootings. Judge Daniel Pahl rules they are unlikely to have anything useful to add.

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Sept. 27, 2010: The appeal of the sentences is rejected. The Alberta Court of Appeal says the four Mounties probably would not have been killed if Roszko hadn't had help from the two men.

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May 18, 2011: The parole board denies Cheeseman's bid for day and full parole. Cheeseman apologizes and admits responsibility for his part in the deaths, but the board feels what he said was "meant to please us."

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Aug. 25, 2011: The Supreme Court of Canada says it won't review the pair's sentences.

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April 18, 2012: The parole board denies Hennessey's bid for day parole and temporary unescorted passes. Hennessey tells the board he "will live with this on my conscience for the rest of my life," but officials say he needs to be more open about what he did and how he is dealing with the enormity of the crime.

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Nov. 19, 2013: Cheeseman is granted statutory release after serving two thirds of his sentence. Conditions include that he get psychological counselling to help cope with what's expected to be a stressful return to the community.

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March 26, 2014: The parole board grants Hennessey unescorted, temporary absences from prison.

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Sept. 23, 2014: Hennessey is granted day parole. The board says he has taken responsibility for his actions and shown empathy for his victims.

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Sept. 9, 2014: Cheeseman is fined $1,000 for having prescription drugs that were not in his name.

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May 12, 2015: Hennessey is granted full parole. The board says he has been functioning well since he was allowed to live in a halfway house.

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