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Day parole denied for Calgary man who strangled spouse, buried body in basement

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CALGARY —
Day parole has been denied for a Calgary man who strangled his spouse and hid her remains in a makeshift tomb in the home where they lived with their two children.

Board members with the Parole Board of Canada determined Thursday that Allan Shyback will remain in prison because he still poses some risk to the community and will not be sent to a halfway house. 

Shyback was convicted of manslaughter and causing an indignity to a body in the 2012 death of 31-year-old Lisa Mitchell, his common-law wife.

He was arrested in 2014 following an undercover police operation. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The Alberta Court of Appeal later increased the term to 10 years.

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Shyback testified at his trial that the couple had a toxic relationship and he was the victim of domestic abuse. Shyback claimed he killed Mitchell in self-defence when she came at him with a knife.

He said he panicked and put her body inside a plastic bin then cemented it into a basement wall. He told Mitchell’s family she left and he continued to live in the home with their children.

The 44-year-old is up for statutory release in April 2022. Under Canadian law, federal offenders who have served two-thirds of a fixed-length sentence will be released from prison under supervision.

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Shyback had previously been granted day parole but it was revoked in 2019 after he failed to inform authorities of any kind of relationships. He had accessed a massage parlour and sex toys were found in his room at a halfway house. 

At his last hearing in May, the Parole Board of Canada was told Shyback had been hoarding a months worth of his bipolar medication.

His parole officer told the board Thursday that Shyback had been transferred back and forth between medium and minimum security at the Bowden Institution.

“It’s extremely important for Mr. Shyback to follow his conditions, maintain his mental health and be open and honest with his case management team. He has not proven that he is able to do any of these things for any length of time either within the institution or on previous release to the community,” she said.

The parole officer said the current recommendation is to deny day parole release. 

The parole board asked Shyback what has changed to instill confidence in them that he will be open and honest with his case management team and what skills he has developed to deal with confrontation. 

Shyback said he can’t guarantee he won’t have any future problems.

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“If I wasn’t medicated there’s a good chance that I would be having more severe mood swings, more severe manic episodes and more frequently,” Shyback told the board. “But even with the medication, I’m still prone to the occasional problem.”

Shyback said he believes his mental health struggles will be lifelong and he will need to access supports from psychologists and psychiatrists for the rest of his life. 

He said he would prefer to live in a halfway house until his statutory release to help him ease back into the community. He also has family support in Red Deer. 

The board said its job is to assess risk and determine if Shyback’s risk can be managed on day parole release in the community.

Even though Shyback understands his mental illness, the board says his actions — breaching conditions, hoarding medication and not being honest with his case management team — are concerning. 

“The board feels that your risk is still unmanageable or undue at this point in time and we are therefore going to deny day parole today.”

Shyback said he does not have direct contact with his children, who were five and seven years old at the time their mother was killed. They are now in the care of relatives.

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No one from Mitchell’s family attended the virtual hearing.

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