Skip to main content

The National Parole Board and Correctional Service Canada have concluded that no major errors were made in granting day parole to career criminal Robert Bruce Moyes, who went on to take part in the murders of seven people in British Columbia.

"It is unnecessary to offer any specific direction on change or amendment to policies, practices or procedures," a joint board of investigation concluded in a recent review of how his case was handled.

Mr. Moyes -- now 51 and the star witness in a high-profile Vancouver murder case -- pleaded guilty in 2002 to seven counts of first-degree murder: The 1995 strangling of a suspected police informant and his wife and the slaying of five people at an Abbotsford-area farmhouse in 1996.

Story continues below advertisement

At the time of the murders, he was on day parole for a life sentence imposed in 1987 for a series of armed bank robberies. He had more than 40 previous convictions, many for violent crimes, and was in prison or under federal supervision every day of his adult life.

In response to public criticism, a four-member board of investigation was convened on Aug. 20, 2002, to look into his case. Its report was completed just over a year later, but did not become publicly available until April of this year, though its availability was not announced.

The Globe and Mail has obtained a heavily edited version of the report, which contains numerous blank pages, including the deletion of the date of birth and criminal record of Mr. Moyes.

The report concludes that all of the decisions reviewed in the files of Mr. Moyes reflected a "sound basis" for conditional release from prison. He is described as someone who was "very much engaged" in programs to deal with his "criminogenic" factors.

The fact that Mr. Moyes was increasingly involved in native spirituality, even though he is not native, was repeatedly cited as a factor in his favour.

This week, while testifying in B.C. Supreme Court against a man he described as his most loyal friend outside prison, Mr. Moyes happily admitted that he lied repeatedly to parole and corrections officials for the past 30 years.

"I know how to make the rules work for me, just like a lawyer," said the multiple murderer turned police agent turned key Crown witness, at the first-degree murder trial of Salvatore Ciancio.

Story continues below advertisement

"People can lie," John Vandoremalen, a spokesman for the National Parole Board, said in an interview. "It would not be the first time the board has been deceived."

Mr. Vandoremalen noted that the board of investigation was asked "to determine whether the procedures and policies were adequate," and determined that the system did operate properly and that all the people involved did their job.

The review board was not asked to determine how officials were repeatedly fooled by Mr. Moyes.

There was no shortage of material for the board to look at, given that the National Parole Board made 47 decisions involving Mr. Moyes between 1979 and 2000.

By the time he was 25, he had received 12 separate 15-year sentences, including those handed to him for a 1975 conviction for attempted murder and bank-robbery convictions in 1980 after he was released on day parole.

Two years later, Mr. Moyes was again promising to be a productive member of society as he applied for day parole.

Story continues below advertisement

"My plan, although not concrete, does have a solid foundation for success," he wrote to the parole board in 1982.

"It was a better letter than the last one," Mr. Moyes said with a laugh in court this week, in reference to an earlier application for release. "I might as well take a shot at it. Maybe I would be let out and have some fun."

Mr. Moyes was not again let out until 1986, when he was granted an unescorted temporary absence pass from a B.C. prison. Immediately, he met up with a former inmate.

"I got drunk, got girls, got high and missed my deadline to get back. Off we went," he said.

"I went out and pillaged and robbed banks for six or seven months," he later admitted to police. Mr. Moyes explained that he got the same "high" from taking part in an armed bank robbery that other people get from activities such as skydiving.

In 1987, a B.C. judge said it was time to put a stop to the "predatory activities" of Mr. Moyes and imposed a life sentence.

Story continues below advertisement

By September of 1993, he was again free on day parole. Despite a number of violations of the terms of his parole, it was not revoked until he was charged with impaired driving in August, 1995. But two months later, he was back on day parole, staying at a halfway house in Abbotsford.

On Dec. 20, 1995, he was given overnight leave privileges. And the very next day, he has testified, he strangled Eugene Uyeyama while an associate killed Mr. Uyeyama's wife, Michele, allegedly on the orders of Mr. Ciancio.

Several months later, Mr. Moyes helped Mark Therrien kill five people at an Abbotsford farmhouse, in another drug-related slaying.

The board of investigation also probed the release of Mr. Therrien, who was on day parole on a "one-chance" statutory release and staying at the same halfway house as Mr. Moyes at the time of the murders. It concluded, as with Mr. Moyes, that no major errors were made in the release of Mr. Therrien, who slashed the throats of three people and killed two others with a crowbar. (Mr. Therrien was convicted in February of 2005, in part because of testimony from Mr. Moyes.)

In September of 2000, Mr. Moyes's parole was revoked yet again and he was sent back to jail. For reasons that are not entirely clear, he wrote to police and said he had a "friend" who had proof about the identity of the people responsible for the murders.

Eventually, Mr. Moyes confessed to seven counts of first-degree murder and agreed to act as a police agent in sting operations against Mr. Therrien, Mr. Ciancio and two other men.

At Mr. Ciancio's trial this week, Mr. Moyes gave the appearance of an experienced and clever witness as he was cross-examined by defence lawyer David Butcher.

Mr. Moyes frequently failed to recall information that damaged his credibility as a witness.

Yet he was quick to disagree with Mr. Butcher whenever he felt the lawyer had not accurately portrayed his prison or parole record.

Mr. Butcher pointed out that the Uyeyamas were murdered just one day after Mr. Moyes was given overnight leave privileges. "Rather than attend an AA meeting as required, you were killing two people," the lawyer said.

"But I was out on a legitimate release," Mr. Moyes stressed.

He is eligible for parole in 2027.

A life of crime

Highlights of Robert Moyes's long history with the Canadian justice system:

1974: Robert Bruce Moyes convicted of armed robbery; given five-year sentence.

1975: Convicted of three counts of attempted murder and other charges in stabbing of a B.C. sheriff. Sentenced to 15 years.

1980: Granted limited day parole. Arrested in Montreal for being unlawfully at large. Convicted of nine counts of robbery and theft with violence. Sentenced to 15 years.

1986: Failed to return to a minimum-security B.C. prison while on unescorted temporary absence pass. Robbed more than two dozen banks over the next several months.

1987: Sentenced to life in prison.

September, 1993: Day parole granted; ordered to receive psychological counselling and abstain from intoxicants.

October, 1994: Day parole restricted due to bad behaviour; must stay nightly at Sumas halfway house in Abbotsford.

August, 1995: Arrested for impaired driving. Parole revoked; returned to jail.

October, 1995: Released from jail; must stay at Sumas centre, with 9 p.m. curfew.

Dec. 20, 1995: Approved for overnight leave privileges.

Dec. 21, 1995: Participated in the torture murders of Eugene and Michele Uyeyama, strangling Mr. Uyeyama and helping to set bodies on fire.

March, 1996: Pleaded guilty to impaired driving, but day parole is continued.

September, 1996: Participated in slayings of five people at an Abbotsford-area farmhouse, while still staying at Sumas centre.

January, 1997: Day parole revoked for drug use. By now, is a suspect in both sets of murders and returned to a maximum-security prison.

November, 1999: Released from prison and placed on day parole. Day parole suspended after he tests positive for morphine and admits using heroin.

2000: Day parole resumed in January. In September, parole is revoked, with overall behaviour described as "problematic."

Sept. 23, 2000: After return to prison, wrote to police that he has information about the Uyeyama and Abbotsford murders.

October, 2002: Pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder. Sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

-- Shannon Kari

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter