Killer who escaped Laval penitentiary had similar plans three years ago

In 2015, he found himself before the parole board when authorities «came upon new information indicating you planned to escape» during an unescorted leave.

In 2003, Denis Bégin received an automatic life sentence when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Ricardo Gizzi. SPVM

Denis Bégin, the killer who escaped from a minimum-security penitentiary this month, was caught planning to do the same thing three years ago.

The 58-year-old murderer was incarcerated at the Federal Training Centre, a minimum-security penitentiary in Laval when he escaped Feb. 15. Staff at the institution discovered he was missing just after noon that day.

The Sûreté du Québec is handling the search for Bégin. In the early stages, they believed Bégin was heading to Gatineau or the Outaouais region. The day after the escape, the provincial police force arrested a 56-year-old man as a possible accomplice in the escape. They also seized a vehicle in Dollard des Ormeaux that they believe was used to help Bégin flee the institution. The man who was arrested was out on parole and his release was revoked following his arrest. SQ spokesperson person Éloïse Cossette said on Wednesday that the alleged accomplice has yet to be charged in connection with the escape but he remains behind bars for the parole violation.

According to Bégin’s records, in November 2015, the Parole Board of Canada decided to allow Bégin unescorted leaves to a halfway house. The plan was considered a step toward parole and to size up Bégin’s “capacity to respect rules in a structured environment and to augment (his) credibility within the very progressive framework of being reinserted into society.”

Two months later, Bégin found himself before the parole board again after authorities “came upon new information indicating you planned to escape” during one of his unescorted leaves. The parole board revoked his access to the leaves and Correctional Service Canada made plans to re-evaluate his security level.

Bégin has not had a parole hearing since then.

In 2003, Bégin received an automatic life sentence when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Ricardo Gizzi, a 19-year-old man who was shot inside a bar on Jean-Talon St. on Halloween night in 1993. Gizzi was wearing a goalie’s mask during the Halloween festivities when Bégin arrived wearing a similar mask and shot him with a rifle.

According to Bégin’s parole records, the murder was carried out as part of “a settling of accounts among drug dealers” and he was with an accomplice when he shot Gizzi.

“At the time, you were considered (by police) to be someone involved in local and international drug trafficking and described as an associate of the Hells Angels as well as certain people in a Colombian drug network,” the parole board stated in the decision made in 2015. “According to police information, you were implicated in another murder in 1993, accompanied by another accomplice, but that information was never followed up on.”

In 2008, a psychologist who evaluated Bégin found his capacity for introspection was limited and felt he matched the profile of a psychopath. Another psychologist who evaluated him in 2014 disagreed and withdrew the damning classification.

During the 2015 parole hearing, Bégin denied being involved in the other murder and claimed he lied to the police about it when he sought to become a police informant before he was arrested in Gizzi’s murder in 1996. In 1998, Bégin testified as a prosecution witness in an unrelated trial involving the death of a child. And while he was on the witness stand, he was questioned about claims he made to the police that he knew who was responsible for the bomb that killed Daniel Desrochers, an 11-year-old boy who was killed in 1995. Desrochers’s death was considered a turning point in the biker gang war, a conflict between the Hells Angels and other organized crime groups that ran from 1994 to 2002. The police believed someone in the Hells Angels intended to use the bomb to kill a rival gang member. No one has ever been charged with Desrochers’s death.

The same decision noted that, as of 2015, Bégin was not considered to be affiliated with any criminal organizations but was still classified as a “protected” inmate, likely because of his work as an informant.

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