Murderer dies in prison

A man convicted of killing a six-year-old Red Deer boy nearly a half-century ago has died near Kingston, Ont.

A man convicted of killing a six-year-old Red Deer boy nearly a half-century ago has died near Kingston, Ont.

Bobby Harold Billyard, 63, died in cottage-style prison housing at Bath, Ont.

Billyard was convicted of killing Michael Clancy, who was then six years old, in 1966. He was serving a life sentence for non-capital murder, assault causing bodily harm and being unlawfully at large.

In a press release, officials from Bath Institution say Bobby Billyard died at the Kingston General Hospital on Thursday around 7:45 p.m.

Staff tried to give Billyard CPR when he collapsed at the institution, and he was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Foul play is not suspected, but an autopsy was to be performed.

A Toronto Sun story reports that a letter he wrote to his girlfriend was presented as evidence at his trial: “I will be doing time for a while . . . I choked a little boy to death . . . and I hope God will forgive me for what I have done . . . I am worried sick now.”

He also gave police a confession, admitting that he choked the child to death.

Billyard drew national attention in 1973 when he escaped while he was free from a Saskatchewan prison on an escorted temporary absence pass.

Billyard was at the home of a prison guard who left him briefly unattended. He fled and stole a car.

Billyard was a native of Dunnville, Ont., a small community on the north shore of Lake Erie, about 30 km south of Hamilton.

At his trial, a doctor said he suffered from several personality problems.

Since Billyard has died, Corrections Canada will no longer provide detailed information about his case, including any explanation for his continued imprisonment so many years after his parole eligibility.

He was eligible to seek full parole in 1972, the Toronto Sun said.

Bath is a medium-security prison near Kingston with a large population of older inmates and offenders with health problems, including disabilities.