A man who got his Mount Douglas Secondary School classmates to kill his mother and grandmother in order to get a $4-million inheritance has been granted unescorted stays at a halfway house, after a similar request was rejected last fall.
Darren Huenemann, now known as Darren Gowen, “orchestrated” the 1990 murders of Sharon Huenemann and Doris Leatherbarrow in Leatherbarrow’s Tsawwassen home, and stayed home with his girlfriend on the night they were carried out, according to the Parole Board of Canada decision.
After a hearing in Quebec, where he is in a minimum-security correctional facility, the board granted Gowen one two-day unescorted temporary absence per month at a community residential facility or halfway house, beginning with two two-day absences. Halfway-house stays could increase to three days if things go well.
The purpose is for resocialization, which the board said is viewed as “realistic and attainable.”
Gowan has previously had escorted temporary absences, but in October, the parole board denied his request for unescorted temporary absences from his facility in Quebec, saying that while he has made some progress in addressing his anger and narcissistic personality disorder, he still presents a moderate risk to reoffend.
Now in his late 40s, he was found guilty in 1996 of escaping from custody and assault causing bodily harm.
The board’s decision said a 2017 psychiatric report found that he had made “significant progress” over the years in terms of accountability and other issues, although he continues to have narcissistic and antisocial traits.
Meanwhile, Derik Lord, who carried out the killings along with David Muir, has had his day parole extended for another six months.
Lord is serving two life sentences for first-degree murder. Now 48, he continues to deny the killings, which the parole board called a “very challenging” issue.
Married with a son, Lord previously had his day parole, which began in March 2020, extended last December. He has been working full-time at a halfway house.
Lord and Muir, then 17, went to Leatherbarrow’s Tsawwassen home to commit the murder, Lord’s parole board decision said. “You and one of your associates entered the home and repeatedly hit the victims on the head with a crowbar,” the decision said. “You then stabbed them in the throat.
“You attempted to make it look like there had been a robbery.”
Lord, Muir and Huenemann were all convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Muir, the only one of the three to admit he took part in the killings, has been on full parole since 2003.
The parole board decision said Lord had behavioural problems while incarcerated, including conflicts with staff and setting fires. But the board said he benefited from learning about his Indigenous heritage approximately 10 years ago.
“Reports indicate that elders elevated you to a position of trust in relation to ceremony and cultural activities and that this was a significant positive factor for you.”
The board said two weekend leaves went well for Lord, and he expressed appreciation about being able to put his child to bed.
The sentencing judge said that “lust and greed of material gain” were behind the crime, according to the decision, and the victims’ loved ones “continue to suffer from extreme pain and trauma.”
Ed Beketa, Leatherbarrow’s brother-in-law, said he wasn’t surprised at the parole board decisions.
“I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “These guys should have never got out of jail at all.
“Now with all three of them out, I don’t know if it’s getting to a bit of a closure because we won’t be going to the hearings every two years.”