A Story from Immigration Officer Joyce Cavanagh-Wood

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While posted to London I interviewed a man who had murdered his wife, in Canada,with an axe…

Several years before I met him, this Englishman, whom I will call Geoff, had immigrated to Toronto with his wife and young son. Geoff was an accountant and had always been gainfully employed in that field, and continued to pursue this career in Canada.

Unbeknownst to Geoff, his wife had been dallying with another man before the family migrated, and the other man migrated to the Detroit area about the same time as our family moved to Toronto. The affair continued clandestinely across the Canada-US border. Geoff’s wife pressured him to earn more money, so they could live a more glamorous lifestyle. Geoff became stressed because of financial issues, and then discovered his wife’s infidelity, compounding his stress.

One day he purchased an axe at his local hardware store, and after his wife was asleep that evening, he murdered her in her bed. His young son slept soundly throughout this activity, and Geoff kindly phoned the police to confess his action. He was sentenced to 25 years in Kingston Penitentiary.

While in the Pen, Geoff was a model prisoner and was able to obtain day release so that he could work for a local organization as an accountant. In this capacity he was free during the day, but had to return to the Pen each evening to sleep.

He met a Canadian lady, recently divorced with two sons, and they fell in love. As the relationship blossomed they made plans to marry, blend their families, build a home in Kingston and live happily ever after.

Rather than move to England where Geoff had no conviction and was thus a free man, the couple were determined to have him released from the Canadian justice system, deported to England and then be sponsored back to Canada by his new wife.

The purpose of my interview with Geoff was to determine whether or not he expressed remorse about his action and whether I should consider asking the Minister, Barbara MacDougall, to allow this man back into Canada to join his Canadian wife. He was clearly inadmissable, but I needed to consider the humanitarian aspects of the case.

Geoff presented himself looking every inch the accountant: navy blazer, grey flannels, glasses. He was unwilling to engage in any discussion of his crime. His file was full of letters of recommendation from the folks at the local organization urging that he be allowed back to Canada, arguing that he was an honorable fellow who could be relied upon to be come a pillar of society. According to his supporters his past crime was one of passion, and therefore would never be repeated.

Something about Geoff made me suspicious. His reluctance to demonstrate any remorse was unsettling. His insistence on returning to Canada, rather than bringing his new wife and family to the UK where he was a free man, made me wonder. So I let the case moulder for a while, and suddenly received messages from his heretofore supporters in Canada withdrawing their support. No reasons were given for this turnaround.

Now I was really intrigued, so I phoned the Kingston Police to ask if they had any idea why Geoff’s supporters had had a change of heart. They immediately responded that the local organization had recently discovered that they were missing $25,000, and strongly suspected Geoff had cooked the books!

Geoff did not get his visa, despite teary protestations by his wife in my office.