Child sex offender Donnie Snook denied full parole, says he didn't want it

Donnie Snook, pictured here in 2013, will remain on day parole at a halfway house in B.C., after being denied full parole. (CBC - image credit)
Donnie Snook, pictured here in 2013, will remain on day parole at a halfway house in B.C., after being denied full parole. (CBC - image credit)

Former Saint John city councillor and convicted child sex offender Donnie Snook has been denied full parole because the Parole Board of Canada concluded he would pose "an undue risk to society."

But Snook, 52, who is on day parole and living at an undisclosed halfway house in British Columbia, told the board he's "not currently interested in full parole," according to the April 22 decision, released this week to CBC News.

"You have not yet secured employment, have limited financial means to support yourself, have no independent housing arrangements, and do not believe you are ready for full parole," the six-page decision states.

No other information about why Snook feels unprepared is provided.

Snook is serving an 18-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2013 to 46 child exploitation-related charges, including sexual assault, making child pornography and extortion. His crimes involved 17 boys over a 12-year period, some as young as five.

He received an additional three-month sentence after he admitted to sexually abusing a boy under the age of 14, while he was a pastor in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the mid-1990s.

On day parole a year

Last May, Snook was granted day parole, and released to a halfway house in the Lower Mainland region of B.C., under several conditions, including that he not be in the presence of anyone under the age of 18 unless accompanied by a responsible adult who knows his criminal history and has been approved by his parole supervisor.

Snook, who's been diagnosed with pedophilia and described as having an "engrained sexual deviance," was also ordered to follow a treatment plan, abstain from pornography and report any relationships.

In December, he was granted overnight leave privileges, and in January his electronic monitoring was deemed "no longer necessary."

Board cites gravity of offences, harm caused

On full parole, offenders serve the remainder of their sentence in the community and report to a parole supervisor on a regular basis.

The Correctional Service of Canada recommended full parole be denied for Snook. His case management team said it would be premature.

The two-member parole board panel agreed full parole wouldn't provide the "level of structure, support, supervision, or oversight required to manage [Snook's] risk at this time."

"The board finds that given the nature and gravity of your offending, the significance of the harm you caused, your capacity to hide your offending for a protracted period of time, the extremes you went to to groom, victimize and target vulnerable children and youth, and given the nature of your pedophilia, it is apparent you require a protracted, structured and supported release with demonstrated manageability over time, prior to consideration being given to expanding your liberty to full parole."

Snook was sexually abused as a child by a member of his church and suppressed his homosexuality as an adult to align with his religious beliefs, according to the board.

He became a youth minister and a foster parent and used these positions to prey upon under-privileged and vulnerable children, the board said.

"To your credit, you appear to recognize the importance of a gradual and supported release to the community prior to being considered for full parole," the decision states.

'Compliant, motivated, and transparent'

The board also acknowledged Snook's progress to date while on day parole.

He continues to comply with all of his imposed conditions, uses his support network, and is "actively engaged in programs and interventions to attend to [his] areas of risk and need" to support his reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.

He participates in the Community Sex Offender Maintenance program, regularly attends Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings, as well as church.

Snook is trying to find "suitable employment," but has been unsuccessful so far. He receives some financial support from his sister, according to the decision, but wants to remain at a halfway house until he can support himself.

"Your [case management team] reports that you present as diligently compliant, motivated, and transparent."

By law, most federal inmates are automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence if they have not already been released on full parole.

The Correctional Service of Canada can, however, recommend this statutory release be denied in certain situations, including if it believes an offender is likely to commit a sexual offence involving a child.

Snook's sentence is scheduled to expire in November 2030.