Toronto Sun: NEWS - Why even think about parole?
Toronto Sun: NEWS - Why even think about parole?

April 15, 2005

Why even think about parole?


By Mark Bonokoski

PAULETTE MOFFITT answered the phone at her family's home in Brockville a little after 8 p.m. Wednesday -- thinking it was a little too late in the day to be anyone but family or friend. As it turned out, however, it was neither.

Instead it was the National Parole Board's Carol Sparling, calling to inform the Moffitts that their heroic son's killer had asked for yet another postponement of his parole hearing -- a hearing that was slated to be heard this coming Tuesday -- and that the board had agreed to his request.

For the fifth time now, this time near the 11th hour, a drug dealer-turned-killer named Henry Danninger had been given leave to bring more turmoil to his victim's family.

Now they will have to circle July 27 on their calendar.

And again start counting the days.

"This is truly eating away at us," Paulette Moffitt says. "I really think I have an ulcer. I haven't slept through one night in the last two weeks thinking about next week's hearing, and when I get up I get a migraine so bad that it turns my stomach. And now this phone call comes.

"This is no way to live. It's hell on earth -- hell for me, hell for my husband, and hell for our other two sons.

"Imagine how they must feel," she says.

Rod and Paulette Moffitt's middle son, Andrew, a 23-year-old computer whiz in his final year of engineering at the University of Ottawa, was stabbed to death by two-bit drug pusher Henry Danninger in 1998 -- on the eve of Christmas Eve -- when he tried to bring calm to a violent confrontation at the Coyote Bar in Ottawa's Sandy Hill district.

The act of courage that cost the young Brockville man his life saw him posthumously awarded the Governor General's Medal of Bravery in 2003.

"When it is my turn to leave this planet, I hope to bring his medal to him," his mother told me the last time we spoke. "I know he is waiting for us. Only time keeps us apart.

"I pray to God that I am the first to go. I am his mom, and I want to hang the Medal of Bravery around his neck and give him the biggest hug.

"He won't be alone anymore," she said. "And maybe, just maybe, the rest of our family will be able to go on with their lives. This is my prayer."

While she says she understands the stress and strain on the Moffitts, the parole board's Carol Sparling also says Henry Danninger's request for a fifth postponement met the necessary criteria and was therefore accepted.

"There is no question this has dragged on for some time," Sparling admitted yesterday. "But his request is valid.

"It was a procedural requirement that could not be met, and something that was out of the offender's control."

Because of privacy laws, however, Sparling would not elaborate on exactly what "procedural requirement" had not been met, other than to state that it rendered the postponement of Danninger's parole hearing "justifiable."

On the first day of his trial for second-degree murder in 2003, after four years of feigning innocence, Henry Danninger, now 31, copped a guilty plea to manslaughter and received a five-year sentence.

He had seen the writing on the wall. He had heard a friend testify about being with him when he bought his "bad-ass knife" and how he set out to the Coyote Bar with the sole purpose of bringing on trouble.

He saw the list of witnesses.

As Paulette Moffitt sums it up, "He buys a knife two hours before meeting his former roommate thinking he had taken his stash of drugs. He breaks a bottle over his head. He knees a patron in the groin two times ... and he stabs my Andy for getting up to help.


"And then he runs out of the restaurant, still holding the knife dripping with Andy's blood.

"Why are we even thinking about parole here?" she then asks. "Didn't he take a life?"

Paulette Moffitt is loath to utter Henry Danninger's name. Instead, she calls him the "killer." Or "he."

"Only knowing he is in jail where he belongs helps us all get through this terrible ordeal," she says. "We know Andy would want him in jail for taking his life -- a life that he was so looking forward to.

"It would have been such a wonderful life."

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother