A former biker-gang hit man turned informant whose testimony brought down Hells Angels boss Maurice (Mom) Boucher has been granted escorted leaves from prison.
The Parole Board of Canada granted the temporary, police-supervised leaves Wednesday to Stephane (Godasse) Gagne, the former elite Hells Angels member sentenced for the 1997 killing of a Quebec prison guard.
Gagne pleaded guilty in 1998 to the first-degree murder of Diane Lavigne and the attempted murder of a second guard. He has served nearly 21 years of his life sentence.
He was also involved in the slaying of a third guard, Pierre Rondeau, but the Crown agreed to withdraw that murder charge in exchange for Gagne's testimony against Boucher.
Boucher, convicted in 2002, ordered the killings of the prison employees in an attempt to send a message and destabilize the justice system.
Gagne appeared for his hearing at a location that cannot be disclosed in order to ensure his safety. He called his crimes "disgusting" and said he would be cautious but not paranoid if granted leaves.
Prison officials consider Gagne to have made progress and judge his risk of reoffending to be acceptable, the two commissioners hearing his request were told. The commissioners nonetheless told Gagne they consider his file troubling.
Gagne, 48, told them that after nearly 21 years in prison, he was suffocating behind bars. He said he would assume responsibility for his release and is very conscious that his safety and that of his family would be at risk.
For security reasons, details of the length, time and place of his first release were not disclosed.
Gagne was initially not eligible to apply for parole until he had served 25 years, but in 2015 he won the right to seek an earlier release under the now-repealed faint hope clause.
This was Gagne's second attempt at securing the leave, following an unsuccessful bid in 2016.
The Hells Angels were at the centre of Quebec's decade-long biker wars, which claimed more than 160 lives.
The Canadian Press