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Man convicted of murdering UVic student 37 years ago gets day parole

Scott Ian Mackay, 62, was convicted of killing Marguerite Telesford, who was 20 when she went out for an early morning jog on Jan. 18, 1987 and never returned

A man serving a life sentence for murdering a University of Victoria student 37 years ago has been granted day parole.

Scott Ian MacKay, 62, was convicted of the murder of Marguerite Telesford, who was 20 when she went out for an early-morning run on Jan. 18, 1987 and never returned. Her body has never been found.

The parole board’s decision said MacKay has been accepted at a community residential facility for his day parole, which has been granted for six months under several special conditions. It did not disclose the location or the timing of his release. He has been serving his sentence at a minimum-security prison in the Fraser Valley.

Telesford was a pianist who was studying to become a teacher at the time of her murder. Her bloody earmuffs were discovered on Mount Douglas Cross Road, along with a series of bloodstains, some hair, a spent shotgun shell and a pry bar.

The Crown’s theory was that MacKay, who had a history of violent assaults on women, accosted ­Telesford as she ran. When she rebuffed him, he drove over her and then shot her.

MacKay maintained his innocence through the trial, but was convicted in 1989 of first-degree murder, which was reduced to second-degree murder on appeal. He was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole for 15 years. He applied for and was denied parole in 2004, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2021.

Although he eventually accepted responsibility for Telesford’s murder, MacKay maintains he has no memory of murdering her and does not know the location of her remains, which was a concern for the parole board.

During his 1989 trial, five of ­MacKay’s fellow inmates testified he had implicated himself in the killing. MacKay accused them of lying for the reward money, and accused police of planting a crucial piece of evidence, a pompom found jammed in the undercarriage of his truck.

“At your hearing today you told [the parole board] that you eventually admitted your culpability for the murder because it was the ‘least’ you could do to bring some closure for the victim’s family,” said the decision. “You maintained you still have no memory of the murder but admitted you were certainly capable of this level of violence at that time in your life.”

The decision says the parole board “remains highly concerned” about the lack of information regarding motivating factors, self-control issues, and MacKay’s thinking at the time of the offence. “Despite your attempts to recover your memory and recall this incident, it does not appear to the board that there will ever be definitive answers to these questions.”

The decision makes note of ­MacKay’s criminal history since 1984, including convictions for impaired driving, assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement.

His sexual assault conviction in 1986 involved the choking and sexual assault of a sex-trade worker, and his unlawful confinement conviction arose out of another incident the same year in which MacKay picked up a sex-trade worker, then drove around dangerously, refusing to let her leave the vehicle, according to the parole board’s document.

The victim was able to escape by jumping out of the vehicle, then had to dodge out of the way as MacKay accelerated toward her.

MacKay was convicted of both offences in 1987 and was out on bail at the time of Telesford’s murder.

The parole board said MacKay remains a person of interest in an unsolved homicide of a woman that same year.

At the hearing, MacKay said he developed abandonment issues as a young child and it led to feelings of resentment toward women. The parole board heard the use of pornography allowed MacKay to objectify women and use violence and sex to control and humiliate victims. He described living three different lives as a successful businessman, a devoted fiancé and a man who engaged in predatory sexual behaviour with vulnerable females.

The parole board said ­­MacKay has a history of sexual ­preoccupation and has used sex and sexual violence as a means of coping. “You are described as having issues with cognitive distortions, emotional instability, sexual deviance and impulsivity,” the document said. “You have a long history of abusing both illicit drugs and alcohol and have demonstrated a tendency to become impulsive and violent when intoxicated.”

Last October, a mental-health clinician conducted a psychological risk assessment, reviewed by a psychologist, that found MacKay presented an “average risk” for sexual and violent re-offending.

Based on that clinical judgement, the assessors indicated MacKay presented “a moderate risk and would likely be manageable in the community using standard risk management strategies and close supervision.”

At the hearing, MacKay told the board he is not in contact with his former partner or a woman from Russia with whom he was previously corresponding. He said he no plans to enter a relationship and is prepared to remain celibate.

The parole board heard that MacKay has participated in several programs addressing sexual offending, substance abuse, anger and emotions, employability and community reintegration, and completed several rounds of the Institutional Sex Offender Maintenance Program, the most recent of which ended in January.

The Correctional Service of Canada told the parole board it cautiously supported MacKay’s day parole, but not overnight leave privileges, recommending eight special conditions that the parole board underscored in its decision.

Those include not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs, reporting friendships, restrictions on all pornography use and not to be around sex workers. MacKay is banned from owning or driving a vehicle, isn’t allowed to have any contact with previous victims, and must follow treatment plans for sexual deviancy and ­substance abuse. MacKay must abide by a ­curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In its final analysis, the parole board said it remains concerned that MacKay is responsible for a murder for which he has no ­recollection, and the motivators that led to the violent crime are still unexplained, leaving it “unable to assess these specific risk factors with you in any meaningful way.”

“The escalating nature of your offending is also troubling … you targeted vulnerable females and used violence to enhance your sexual arousal,” the decision said. “You were capable of manipulating people and offending while presenting a façade to others in order to hide your criminal behaviour.

“At times during the hearing, you appeared to answer the board’s questions in a manner that suggested you were trying to give the answer you believed the board was looking for. These factors are concerning as you have the intelligence and ability to present as ‘all is well’ while engaging in problematic undetected behaviour.

“This raises concerns about the need for close supervision in the community.”

The board noted a number of mitigating factors, including the most recent psychological report that found MacKay’s risk for ­sexual re-offending in the ­average range.

The parole board found ­MacKay benefited from programming in the institution, including therapy and completion of his high school education, and that his connection with his Indigenous culture has helped counter anti-social, criminal attitudes.

The board noted MacKay has been accepted by six community residential facilities in two cities, though specific locations were not named, and said it based its findings in part on professional opinions of his manageability in the community, his ongoing sobriety and the supervision strategy presented for his release.

“Having weighed and considered the board’s concerns against the mitigating factors of your case, the board finds you will not present an undue risk to society if released on day parole,” said the decision.

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