Parole board worried about Vernon woman's plans to marry a high profile offender - InfoNews

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Parole board worried about Vernon woman's plans to marry a high profile offender

FILE PHOTO: Lori Victoria Vance is escorted from the Vernon courthouse following a sentence hearing Feb. 27, 2017.
May 24, 2018 - 11:00 AM

VERNON - Having a romantic relationship with another offender isn’t helping a Vernon woman’s chances of getting full parole.

Lori Victoria Vance, 40, is serving a three year sentence for drunk driving causing the death of Kelowna nurse Erin Rae Smith, 33, and bodily harm to Vernon nurse Lindsey Hauck, 31. Smith and Hauck were on a coffee break from Vernon Jubilee Hospital when their car was T-boned by Vance’s vehicle after she ran a red light.

Last October, Vance was denied full parole but granted day parole for a period of six months. She has since applied again for full parole, but the board took no action on her request, citing insufficient evidence that she has dealt with risk factors such as making bad decisions and having an inability to cope with life stressors. In particular, the parole board highlighted concerns about a romantic relationship between Vance and an unnamed, high profile offender in another region serving an indeterminate sentence. An indeterminate sentence is reserved for serious crimes where the intention is to keep an offender behind bars until — and if — they can prove they've made significant changes and no longer pose a risk to the public.

The couple met via a pen pal site for inmates and are planning to get married, according to a Parole Board of Canada decision dated April 25. 

“Your parole officer reports they have discussed the concerns around the relationship, particularly given you have entered into a relationship with such a high profile offender, and you were asked not to pursue any visiting applications or continue with marriage planning,” the board says in its decision.

In a letter submitted with her parole application, Vance says the relationship began as “comical, joking and fun” and developed into a “supportive, encouraging and loving relationship.” She says neither of them pose a risk to anyone, and states that she can recognize the signs of a toxic relationship and will “deal with the situation accordingly” if concerns arise.

The board’s last decision stated that at the time of the offence, Vance was not coping with life stressors including stress from a prior relationship, and was making bad decisions.

“At this time there is insufficient information to allow the board to conclude that these factors are no longer a concern. Certainly your decision to embark on a serious relationship with a high profile offender serving an indeterminate sentence only adds to these concerns,” the board says.

The board did note, however, that Vance’s behaviour was appropriate on day parole and there is no suspicion she has returned to alcohol use.

"File information reports an overall uneventful transition to day parole from the institution and the CSC (Correctional Service canada) notes they do not anticipate you will encounter any significant difficulties in your reintegration moving forward,” the board says.

The board extended her day parole for another six months, but imposed a special condition on April 25 to immediately report all intimate sexual and nonsexual relationships with men to her parole supervisor. According to the parole board, special conditions must be reasonable and necessary, and must contribute to an offender’s reintegration.

“The breakdown of your last relationship and the resulting stress contributed to your alcohol abuse. Reporting all relationships with men will help your CMT (Case Management Team) to manage this risk,” the board says.

While on day parole, Vance is also prohibited from consuming alcohol, operating a motor vehicle, visiting drinking establishments, and associating with anyone believed to be involved in criminal activity or substance misuse, among other conditions.

— This story was updated at 11:50 a.m. June 11, 2018 to reflect a corrected and amended decision released by the Parole Board of Canada. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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