On Dec. 14, 1972, Larry Maxwell Stanford was 21 years old when he boarded a crowded plane leaving a tiny mining town in Labrador with a loaded .22-calibre rifle and hijacked it for several hours.
Then, after serving 10 years in prison, he was paroled - only to try to kill his sister with a hammer, sending him back behind bars.
Today, the 56-year-old will finally be released. Mr. Stanford plans to start his life over in Edmonton, and city police have already taken the unusual step of warning residents that he still "poses a risk of significant harm to the community."
Edmonton police issued the warning with a photo of Mr. Stanford and a physical description shortly after he appeared in a local courtroom yesterday. During the proceedings, a Crown prosecutor requested and received permission to keep him under police supervision for one year, which is a rare order under Section 810(2) of the Criminal Code. The order also prevents him from possessing weapons or using alcohol or drugs.
In 1973, Mr. Stanford became the first Canadian ever to be convicted of hijacking an aircraft. The Ontario native was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Quebecair flight he hijacked was carrying 52 passengers and five crew members; no one was injured.
He was released on parole in March, 1982, but was later sent back to prison after being convicted of attempted murder in 1984. Mr. Stanford had hit his sister several times in the head with a hammer and received 15 years in prison, consecutive to his original 20-year sentence.
One passenger on the hijacked plane, Willard Talbot, said he didn't hold a grudge against Mr. Stanford.
"Tell him I've forgiven him. We have to forgive. He must have regretted it a lot, I hope," Mr. Talbot said in an interview yesterday from his home south of Montreal. "I hope he'll turn out all right. I hope he'll stay on the right path."
Mr. Talbot, now 75, was a mechanic working in the iron mines of Wabush, in western Labrador, in 1972.
He remembered that the flight took place less than two weeks before Christmas, so that the BAC-111 jetliner was full of people working in the mining community - 52 passengers ranging from company executives to blue-collar workers - heading home for the holidays.
Shortly before the afternoon takeoff around 1:05 p.m., a nervous-looking Mr. Stanford came on board, armed with a .22-calibre rifle.
"It wasn't a pretty sight. You had to be crazy to do something like that," Mr. Talbot recalled. "He was threatening us all. One of the stewardesses was crying. It wasn't a good trip."
The passengers and one of the five crew members were released in Montreal. After flying to Ottawa, then back to Montreal, Mr. Stanford peacefully surrendered around 11:15 p.m. after a flight attendant convinced him to turn himself in.
Mr. Talbot also remembered that at the time of the hijacking Mr. Stanford was estranged from his 20-year-old wife, Heather, who was pregnant with their second child. "It's too bad for his family. But he deserved it [going to jail]"
In 1989, Mr. Stanford was interviewed by The Globe and Mail about living in Kingston Penitentiary's E Block - a superprotective custody block for either notorious or vulnerable prisoners. His then-neighbours included serial killer Clifford Olson.
Mr. Stanford said he refused to go out for daily recreation hour because it reminded him too much of freedom, and of how bored he was. "Some guys get little lines in front of their eyes even when they go outside - from constantly looking through prison bars," he said.
Larry Stanford, the man who hijacked a plane in Labrador 35 years ago, is being released in Edmonton at the expiration of his sentence and not on parole as incorrectly stated in a headline yesterday.