MANDEL: Killer of Const. Todd Baylis still claims self-defence – but parole board grants escorted pass

‘Complete absence of remorse and insight into his crimes’

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Despite still insisting 27 years later that he was acting in self defence when he executed Toronto Police Const. Todd Baylis, his killer has been granted his first step toward freedom by the Parole Board of Canada.

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At the end of his virtual hearing from a medium security prison in Abbotsford, B.C., even Clinton Junior Gayle, 52, appeared surprised by the decision to approve a four-hour escorted temporary absence (ETA) pass.

Also surprised was the lawyer representing his victims: the Baylis family as well his the dead man’s former partner, Staff Sgt. Michael Leone, who narrowly escaped death that day.

“He’s aggressively denying it all and all the parole board says is, ‘We’re concerned’ but they’re still going to give him an ETA?” asked an incredulous Tim Danson after the hearing. “It confirms a complete absence of remorse and insight into his crimes, yet the parole board held that this was not relevant to risk factors, a proposition that I reject. The exact opposite is true.”

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Right now, it’s just one approved escorted pass to Fraser Valley – with guards in plainclothes and unarmed – with more that can be approved by the warden. The next step on his release plan would be to get approval for unescorted temporary absences. And the hearing was told that as soon as that’s granted, Gayle will be deported back to Jamaica within 48 hours.

“And that’s exactly what he wants,” laments Danson.

Gayle kept repeating that he was “deeply remorseful” and “deeply, deeply sorry” for shooting Baylis on June 16, 1994 – but insisted the facts that saw him convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder and which were upheld by judges through his appeal and faint hope hearing are all wrong.

“They attacked me,” he told his hearing. “I agree with everything except the part that I initiated the confrontation and I started shooting first.”

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Actually, that’s not the way it happened at all.

The convicted crack dealer was plying his trade in the Trethewey Dr. public housing where he grew up after arriving as a child from Jamaica. Baylis and Leone stopped him during a routine patrol.

What’s up? ” Baylis asked.

Gayle, under an outstanding final deportation order, couldn’t risk being arrested. So he shoved Baylis in the chest, throwing him to the ground. Leone tried pepper spray to stop him but he fled up a stairwell. Gayle then pulled out his stolen 9 mm semi-automatic and shot Leone in his shoulder and back. “A matter of millimeters separated Const. Leone from paralysis, if not death,” said then Superior Court Justice David Watt.

As Baylis lay on the ground, Gayle placed his gun no more than six inches from his temple and fired.

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“It wasn’t just any murder – it was, in the words of the learned trial judge, the Honourable Justice David Watt – an ‘execution.’ My brother’s service revolver was still strapped in its holster. Gayle’s life was never in danger,” Cory Baylis said in his victim impact statement. “This is who Clinton Gayle is.”

“I don’t remember it happening like that,” Gayle said as board member Ryan Nash recited the facts, including his trying to shoot Leone a second time. “There’s no way that can be accurate.”

Despite his shocking refusal to accept responsibility, the two-member board accepted Gayle has changed: since 2008, he’s given up drugs and causing institutional trouble, he scores as a low risk for violence and is a candidate for transfer to minimum security.

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“An absence from the institution, that would be under escort for a brief period of time into the community, where you would be under constant sight and sound, in that context, the risk is manageable,” Nash said.

Which brings Gayle a giant step closer to getting on a jet plane to Jamaica and shedding the shackles of his life sentence.

“Clinton Gayle executed my partner, Todd Baylis and but for his gun jamming, he would have executed me as well, solely to avoid deportation,” Leone wrote in his victim impact statement.

“To now use the existence of that deportation order to win his freedom and place himself beyond the reach of the Parole Board of Canada, is deeply offensive,” he said.

“This is the ultimate insult. It is the ultimate slap in the face.”

mmandel@postmedia.com

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