A Kamloops woman whose young daughter died after she set her on fire has been granted full parole 22 years after the horrific crime in Juniper Ridge.
According to a Parole Board of Canada decision, 52-year-old Donna Elizabeth Hysop is free to live in a private residence, but must not go within 100 kilometres of Salmon Arm, where her son and ex-husband live. Hysop seriously burned her son at the same time she set herself and her daughter alight on the morning of March 18, 1997.
According to records from Hysop’s November 1998 court appearance, she was depressed when she poured solvent on herself and her two children, Alicia, 5, and Joshua, 3. and set them all on fire. Hysop changed her mind and doused the flames, though it was too late for Alicia, who died a month later from an infection.
Court heard evidence from two police officers and hospital staff who said Hysop admitted to the crime when she first arrived at hospital. However, by the time the trial began, she had changed her story, claiming she was upstairs in her townhouse when the two children accidentally set themselves on fire with solvent that was in the television room.
The jury found Hysop guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder and she was given a life sentence with eligibility for parole after 10 years.
According to the parole board decision, Hysop was not granted day parole until March 2018.
The parole board said Hysop’s ex-husband had asked that a no-contact order be issued to prevent her reaching out to her son, who is now in his mid-20s, and that she be prevented from going within 100 kilometres of Salmon Arm, where father and son live. The parole board agreed to those conditions, as well as ordering that Hysop have nothing to do with children under 14, unless supervised, and report all her relationships with her parole supervisor.
“The surviving victim and the father of the victim have suffered immense harm and they have the right to have no contact with you and some small measure of comfort in knowing they will not encounter you,” the parole board wrote, noting Hysop still maintained her innocence.
“The psychologist also notes that, for the most part, you display a lack of insight about yourself and disinterest in pursuing treatment. Given your lack of engagement, the psychologist suggests further sessions would not be of benefit,” the parole board wrote.
In her favour, the board noted Hysop has a job, has secured housing and is saving money. She had only one negative incident while she was in jail.
“You have demonstrated over a sustained period of time stability in the community, which includes completing required programming, attending psychological counselling sessions, finding and keeping a full-time job, saving money, securing appropriate accommodation, complying with the rules of the [community-based residential facility], working co-operatively with your [case manager] and abiding by the conditions of your release,” the parole board wrote.