Ottawa Sun Online: NEWS - Family 'sick' over hearing delay
Ottawa Sun Online: NEWS - Family 'sick' over hearing delay

Wed, November 24, 2004

Family 'sick' over hearing delay

It's as if the killer called the shots, says Mark Bonokoski of a parole bid that's sure to ruin one family's Christmas

By Mark Bonokoski, Toronto Sun

Already troubled that the murderer of her heroic son was getting a shot at parole in two week's time after only 18 months in prison, Paulette Moffitt has now received "devastating news" from Corrections Canada telling her the parole hearing would now not be held until mid-January. It was as if the killer were calling the shots.

"We're just sick about this delay," Paulette Moffitt said yesterday, speaking from her home in Brockville.

"While it might seem that it gives (Danninger) another month in jail, all it really does is give us another month with our lives turned upside down ... all through Christmas," she said.

Henry Danninger -- a drug dealer with a manslaughter conviction now atop his rap sheet -- either wanted more time to prepare, or his treatment reports were not entirely submitted, or the parole board itself needed more time.

That, at least, was the official line given.

"It's very routine for cases not to go ahead on schedule, for a number of reasons," said Ontario parole board spokeswoman Carol Sparling, indicating that, while the postponement could be confirmed, restrictions under the Privacy Act negate her from providing a specific reason for the delay.

The Moffitt family, however, knows the reason.

They know because they were advised by a Corrections Canada official that it was their son's confessed killer who requested the postponement -- his first parole hearing now slated for Jan. 14 -- and that he did so without providing an explanation.

"We were told that it was (Danninger's) decision. And we were told he could keep putting it off and putting it off," said Paulette Moffitt.


"It is like rubbing salt in our wound.

"A while ago, my husband (Rod) said this would be the worst Christmas yet ... knowing that in two weeks our son's killer could be out of jail. Now we have to live through Christmas thinking about him possibly getting out in mid-January.

"It's more than unbelievable. It's unreal."

It's Christmas, of course, that is the worst of times for the Moffitt family, as it will likely be for years on end.

Andy Moffitt, a 23-year-old computer whiz in his final year of engineering at the University of Ottawa, was stabbed to death in 1998 -- on the eve of Christmas Eve -- when he tried to bring calm to a violent confrontation in the Coyote Bar in Sandy Hill.

Last year, the act of courage that cost the young Brockville man his life saw him being posthumously awarded the Governor General's Medal of Bravery.

"He didn't deserve to die," his mother said back then. "If a knife was never pulled out (at the bar), he'd be here today."

Henry Danninger, 26 at the time, was also from Brockville, although he had never laid eyes on Andy Moffitt until he ran that knife through his heart.

Andy Moffitt had gone to the Coyote Bar to celebrate the end of his computer engineering exams. Henry Danninger had gone there, knife in hand, to confront a roommate he believed had stolen his cache of drugs.

And, once there, two disparate lives tragically collided.

Charged with second-degree murder, Danninger was released on bail after three months in custody. Almost four years later, he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter, was given double credit for time spent under "house arrest," and was sentenced to five years in prison.

And that means he will officially be eligible for parole in less than two weeks -- on Dec. 8 -- a date that comes only 18 months after he plunged a knife into Andy Moffitt's chest.

"It's a legal system, not a justice system," Paulette Moffitt said on the day her son's killer copped his guilty plea to manslaughter. And she is far from being wrong.

On Monday, she and her husband visited their son's grave at Brockville's St. Francis Xavier Cemetery.

"We lit a candle and asked Andy to give us the strength to get through this terrible ordeal," she said. "Something good has to come out of all this .

"It has just been hell on Earth for us."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
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   Mike's Speech
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   Andy's Story
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