Canoe News

Friday, May 24, 2002

Woman who starved son to death now considered "low risk," parole board rules

Canadian Press
Canoe News

KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) -- An Ontario woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse was granted full parole because she is now considered "low risk," the National Parole Board determined.

Lorelei Turner, 38, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was granted probation by the board on Wednesday in a decision that shocked child-abuse activists. She and her husband Steven were convicted of manslaughter in July 1995 for the beating and starvation death of their three-year-old son John.

Both received 16-year sentences, at the time among Canada's harshest punishments for child abuse. Turner's husband was granted full parole in August 2001. In a written decision, the board noted that Turner successfully completed four six-month periods of day parole while attending counselling and also found a full-time job, and was subsequently assessed as "low risk."

The board also noted Turner has formed "what appears to be a relatively stable and supportive relationship."

Turner admitted to the board that she and her husband "verbally and physically abused" their son and "failed to ensure he was properly nourished."

She also admitted to the possibility that she "transferred the anger and frustration" she felt toward her husband onto her son.

The board ruled it was "satisfied" that Turner's "risk is manageable in the community on full parole with the special conditions indicated."

Turner had been on day parole and living in a halfway house since May 2000, and the board's decision means she can now live on her own, but subject to certain conditions. She must remain within 25 kilometres of her residence, is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and must continue to receive counselling.

The case horrified people across the country as the two-week trial in 1995 chronicled the abuse the Turners' son suffered.

Few parts of John's skeletal frame were not covered in bruises, cuts, sores or self-inflicted bite marks. He also had numerous scars and bone fractures in various states of healing.

The boy had not eaten for weeks and may have refused food.

In the final days of his life at Canadian Forces Base Chatham, N.B., John was restrained by a harness and gagged with a sock to muffle his cries. He died on May 29, 1994.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.