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Parole board gives more home visits to man convicted in Mayerthorpe RCMP deaths

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EDMONTON - A man convicted for his role in the shooting deaths of four Alberta Mounties is getting more unescorted, temporary absences from prison.

The Parole Board of Canada says Shawn Hennessey is doing well behind bars and will be allowed to visit his family for up to 78 hours, once every month, for six months.

He was first granted visits in March to see his wife and children at their home. The board says those visits did not raise concerns, so the passes will now be expanded "to include family outings, attending grocery stores, restaurants and recreation centres."

The board writes in its decision that the visits, to be planned and pre-approved by a supervisor, "will not put the community at risk."

"Continuing your family contact for unescorted temporary absences will continue to strengthen family bonds in a community setting and allow time in your home community for a gradual reintegration back into society."

Hennessey, 35, is set to apply for day parole in September.

Hennessey and his brother-in-law, Dennis Cheeseman, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for giving James Roszko a rifle and a ride to Roszko's farm near Mayerthorpe in 2005.

Constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon, Brock Myrol and Leo Johnston had been guarding a Quonset hut on Roszko's farm as part of a marijuana grow-op and automobile chop-shop investigation.

Roszko ambushed and killed the officers before he was shot and wounded, then killed himself.

Hennessey was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years and four months for his role in the crime. Cheeseman was handed seven years and two months. They both lost court appeals asking for shorter sentences.

Cheeseman was granted statutory release late last year after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

Hennessey had applied for early parole in 2012, but was denied.

The board says the minimum-security inmate has worked hard over the years, gained insight into his behaviours and become "emotional when considering the victims and their families."

He has completed his high school equivalency diploma, achieved employment certificates and, with perimeter security clearance for the prison works department, has received good employment reports.

A psychologist reports also suggests he is a low risk to reoffend.

His statutory release date is Dec. 29, 2015.

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