In the 10 years since Mark Anaka fatally slashed a Kelowna woman’s throat, he’s managed to gain full-time employment as a barber and move into his own apartment where he spends weekends, according to a report from the Parole Board of Canada.
Now he’s been granted five-days of leave at a time because the board said he’s managed his risk and focused on his reintegration, engaged in pro-social leisure activities and addressed outstanding debt in an appropriate manner.
Anaka, 41, was given a mandatory life sentence in 2009, when he pleaded guilty to killing Crystal Gagnon in broad daylight at City Park with a broken cooler bottle. At the time he was a crack addict and claimed he was acting on the orders of his drug dealers—an allegation that was never proven.
Although he was sentenced to life in prison, day parole was first granted to Anaka in March of 2016.
“The board noted that the progress that you had made through programming and the insight that you had gained into the role that grief, drugs and negative associates had played in the murder,” reads the report from the Parole Board.
“You were said to be a “model inmate” and were incarcerated at a minimum security institution. You had a good release plan. The board concluded that your risk would not be undue on day parole.”
Since then Anaka’s embarked on community reintegration, his behaviour in the community has not raised any concerns.
He completed additional programming with reported gains and appears to be committed to doing everything necessary to stay crime free.
“You remain open and honest with your CMT. Although you experienced stressors as a result of a relationship break down you handled the situation appropriately,” reads the report.
“A psychiatric assessment completed in January 2016 noted that you had good insight into your offence and into the risk factors that could lead you to relapse into drug abuse. He found that your progress in addressing your risk factors had been consistent and sustained and he agreed with a previous psychological assessment that had found you to be a relatively low risk for general and violent re-offending.”
The parole board report concludes that Anaka is capable of extreme violence and did commit “a very brutal murder.” His history with drug addiction and spending time with negative influences remain a cause for concern, but recent good behaviour and support left board members with the conclusion that the positive aspects outweigh the negative.
“Given the progress that you have made in the community, your full time employment and motivation to remain crime free the board also concludes that your risk would not be undue if your leave privileges were expanded to allow you to spend five nights per week at your apartment,” reads the report.
It was in September 2007 that Anaka killed Gagnon. At the time of the murder he was heavily addicted to drugs and had been using crack cocaine steadily for several days with little sleep.
The parole report said Anaka believed he had been ordered to commit the murder by two drug dealers and he thought he would be harmed if he did not carry out their instructions. Within days of the murder police suspected his involvement and, while expressing remorse, he admitted his actions to undercover police officers.
The sentencing judge accepted that he was remorseful for his actions and noted that he had no prior criminal record or indeed any record of previous violence. She pointed out that until he became addicted to drugs Anaka was a productive and contributing member of society.
Anaka began using illegal drugs in 2000 following the death of his newborn child. He tried unsuccessfully to address his addiction on three occasions and eventually lost his job and experienced financial hardship. That, in turn, led him to associate with drug dealers and violent gang members.
There are conditions of his release. He’s not to associate with any person involved in criminal activity and/or substance misuse.
He’s not to consume purchase or possess drugs other than prescribed medication taken as prescribed and over the counter drugs taken as recommended by the manufacturer.
And he’s expected to participate in counselling with a mental health professional to be arranged by his parole supervisor to address substance abuse, grief, emotional issues and other issues that may impact your successful reintegration.