A Kamloops woman who more than 20 years ago set fire to her two young children — killing her five-year-old daughter and leaving her three-year-old son disfigured and seriously injured — has been granted day parole despite continually maintaining her innocence while behind bars.
Donna Hysop, 50, is serving a life sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the attacks in a Juniper Ridge townhouse on March 18, 1997.
The Parole Board of Canada cited Hysop’s refusal to accept responsibility for the incident in denying her request for unescorted temporary absences in December, but has now granted her day parole — meaning she must return to her halfway house each night.
Parole officials also noted “recent concerning behaviour” on Hysop’s file. In January, she became involved in a physical altercation with a fellow inmate. Both were determined to have been “instigators,” according to parole documents.
The documents also touch on Hysop maintaining her innocence and minimizing her role in the arson attacks on her kids.
“File content indicates you may never accept full responsibility for your offending and have not done so for 20 years,” the documents read, noting a clinical report found Hysop’s “claim of innocence and her inability to accept responsibility” were not risk factors for future offending.
“I consider your risk of violence to be relatively low to very low while in custody and I consider your risk, if released to the community, to be relatively low,” the report read.
The report was prepared in December, a month before Hysop got into an altercation while in custody.
“Your denial today is aligned with your denial over the years,” the parole documents state, noting Hysop has “demonstrated no discernible remorse.”
“The gravity of the index offence is indescribable — the death of an innocent child and the permanent harm caused to another is on the most extreme end of severity. The victims have been steadfast in their attendance at hearings and their belief that you ought not to be released. They have indicated they need safeguards put in place to protect them from further harm should you be released.”
While on day parole, Hysop will reside at a halfway house in the Lower Mainland. She will be under conditions prohibiting her from having any contact with victims or victims’ families, including on social media, and will not be allowed within a 100-kilometre radius of the community in which her son now lives.
Hysop will also be barred from being in a position of trust with regard to any child under 14 and must take regular counselling.
Hysop was convicted based largely on confessions she made in the presence of police, firefighters and neighbours. In court, she said her comments were taken out of context.
She has been eligible for parole since 2008, but has had previous requests turned down.
Hysop’s parole status will be reviewed in six months.