Toronto Sun Columnist: Mark Bonokoski - Andy tries to rest in peace
Toronto Sun Columnist: Mark Bonokoski - Andy tries to rest in peace

February 11, 2005

Andy tries to rest in peace

By Mark Bonokoski -- For the Toronto Sun

When a convict applies for parole -- and that includes hero killer Henry Danninger -- he is provided a list of the observers who will be attending the hearing.

Henry Danninger likely wished he was wearing Depends when he first saw the names on his list -- all which might go some way towards explaining his postponement of each and every parole hearing he has thus far scheduled.

But when you knife to death a young man such as Andy Moffitt, a 23-year-old computer whiz in his final year of engineering at the University of Ottawa, who is then posthumously awarded the governor general's award of bravery for the actions that cost him his life, then such attention should not be unexpected.

The list, however, is nonetheless intimidating.

Aside from Andy Moffitt's family and friends who will provide victim-impact statements, there is Scott Newark, a former Alberta Crown prosecutor, executive director of the Canadian Police Association, special counsel for the Office for Victims of Crime, and currently a special security adviser on counter-terrorism to the government of Ontario.

No doubt Danninger has seen the letter which Newark penned on the Moffitt's behalf to Simone Ferguson, the National Parole Board's Ontario director, in which he reminds the board of Danninger's previous bail violations which are described by Newark as "planned, deliberate and calculated to avoid detection."

"The board should (also) assess the rationale for two -- (and now three) -- adjournments of the parole hearing," Newark continued. "Was it done to simply aggravate or attempt to avoid the family or the publicity?

"If so, he is clearly not ready for release.

"If he was 'not ready' for unspecified reasons -- missing report, etc. -- in which he bears any responsibility, then that again shows he is not taking the importance of this issue seriously enough," Newark offered.

"And this is an indicator of risk of future reoffending."

On the list, as well, is Ottawa Det. Dale Hayes, then the lead homicide investigator in the 1998 case which eventually saw Henry Danninger, a Brockville drug dealer, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and receiving a five-year sentence in a federal pen.

"The Moffitts are a special family," said Hayes. "It is awful what this has done to them. They've reached out to me, and I promised I would be there for them.

"I don't know what (Danninger) is trying to do (by continuing to postpone his parole hearing.) Is he playing a game?

"I can't see any other reason than it being a game," said Hayes. "He's never taken the Moffitts' feelings into consideration with any of the other things he has done."

On the list, too, is Steve Sullivan, director of the Canadian Research Centre for Victims of Crime, as well as the Moffitt's Leeds-Grenville MP, Gord Brown, who, with Newark's legal input, is working to have a private member's bill passed which will require judges to hand out stricter sentences to offenders who kill using a knife.

It is, indeed, a list of heavy hitters.

As written here Sunday, the now 31-year-old Danninger stabbed innocent bystander Andy Moffitt through the heart in 1998 -- on the eve of Christmas Eve -- when he tried to bring calm to a violent confrontation at the Coyote Bar in a district of Ottawa known as Sandy Hill.

Since then, through the parole board, Danninger has thrice ducked meeting face to face with those on the list planning to attend his parole hearing.

"It's heartbreaking what they're doing, because I truly believe what they are doing, they are doing to our son," Paulette Moffitt has said. "It is absolutely wrong. How can Andy possibly rest in peace until this is over?

"He can't. It's just impossible."

As of last weekend, the Moffitt family had received only a phone call from the parole board to tell them of the postponement of the hearing scheduled for Feb. 22 -- but no official letter of confirmation.

That letter finally arrived late Monday afternoon.

By then Paulette Moffitt had already called all the observers to tell of yet another postponement, this time to April 19.

"And I shouldn't have to do that," she said. "It only makes the hurt hurt more."

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