Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Killer mom finishes jail term, heads to Australia

Alberta government appealing sentence

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EDMONTON -- An Australian woman who has finished her jail term in Alberta for drowning her two children has been ordered to remain in custody over the weekend and is expected to be removed to her native country on Monday.

But that won't stop the provincial government from appealing both the conviction and sentence of Allyson McConnell.

"This is not over," said Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, who said the province will proceed with the appeals with or without McConnell's presence.

"The appeal will continue even if she is not in the province. If our appeal is successful, I fully intend to leave no stone unturned to ensure that she comes back here and answers for her crimes."

The decision to hold McConnell over the weekend came during a brief hearing conducted by teleconference on Friday after McConnell earned early release Thursday. She had served two-thirds of a 15-month sentence for manslaughter.

Denis had asked Ottawa to grant a stay of the release and keep the woman in the province pending the outcome of the Crown appeal.

But he said he was advised by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney there was no legal way to do so.

"He's advised there's virtually nothing that can be done when someone's out of prison if they have a valid passport," Denis said.

Although it was made clear during McConnell's trial she wanted to head back to Australia as soon as she could, Denis said his office wasn't informed of those plans until this week.

"That wasn't the information I received," he said. "This came on my desk on Tuesday morning."

A Justice spokesman noted that even if the minister's office had known of her plans earlier nothing could have been done to keep her in Alberta.

If Alberta wants McConnell back, it will have to depend on the time-consuming and expensive extradition process.

During the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing, which took less than 10 minutes, both McConnell's lawyer and a Canadian Border Services Agency hearing officer agreed the woman should remain in the psychiatric hospital in Edmonton where she served her sentence until she is removed from the country.

McConnell is both a danger to public safety and to herself, conceded Peter Royal, who has represented McConnell since she was first arrested.

"She is anxious to return to Australia," said Royal.

During her trial, court heard McConnell was depressed and suicidal when she drowned her two young boys in the bathtub in the family home south of Edmonton in 2010.

She later drove to the city, jumped off a busy overpass and was rushed to hospital.

-- The Canadian Press

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2013 A14

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