MISSION, B.C. — An Alberta man who took nine people hostage in a Workers' Compensation Board office has been granted day parole based on his progress behind bars while working with aboriginal elders.
Patrick Clayton, 44, put many people in danger six years ago but has been "very, very involved'' with elders during the past year of incarceration, Parole Board member Maryam Majedi said after a hearing at the medium-security Mission Institution, east of Vancouver.
"You still have a problem to open up and talk about what you did and why you did it,'' Majedi said Thursday. "However, we see a positive change in you.''
Clayton was armed with a rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition when he stormed a downtown Edmonton office building on Oct. 21, 2009, fired shots into a wall and herded hostages into a conference room.
He had a long-standing dispute with the WCB after a knee injury on a construction site seven years earlier. No one was injured when he surrendered to police after 10 hours.
Clayton has now served nearly four years of his six-year, 10-month sentence.
The Parole Board decided Clayton would be transferred to the aboriginal-focused Tsow-Tun Le Lum Treatment Centre in Lantzville, on Vancouver Island, for six months of holistic substance-abuse treatment.
He was incarcerated in two prisons in the Edmonton area before being placed at Mission Institution.
The board granted Clayton day parole on several conditions, including that he stay away from all WCB offices in Canada. He agreed, and then smiled and shook hands with two aboriginal elders.
Clayton was supported by the two men during the elder-assisted hearing, where everyone sat in a circle and participated in an indigenous blessing.
"At this particular time in my life, I want nothing to do with (the WCB),'' he said.
Clayton said he took the hostages in a "cry for help,'' adding he had not been eating or sleeping properly and was addicted to cocaine.
He said he was forced to realize that his life was in "mayhem'' when his young son asked to move in with him, but he was living in a "crack shack.''
The WCB had cut off his pension and he had no income, he said.
"I tried to rationalize it was the WCB's fault,'' he said, referring to his lifestyle.
His parole officer told the board that Clayton's intention when he took the hostages was "suicide by cop.''
The officer, whose name cannot be published on request of the Parole Board, said she didn't think Clayton would improve when she first met him.
"I'm very impressed with the hard work he has done,'' she said, noting he has gained insight and empathy and is no longer using substances. "It's a night-and-day difference.''
Clayton will begin a graduated leave program at the aboriginal centre, where he could eventually be approved for a maximum absence of 72 hours.
He will undergo another review before his statutory release date of June 12, 2016.
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