Woman who set children on fire denied parole; refuses to admit she set blaze

A woman who set her two young children on fire, killing her daughter, continues to deny she set the blaze.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A woman who set her two young children on fire, killing her daughter, continues to deny she set the blaze.

A parole board refused Donna Hysop’s request for day parole, saying she would pose too great a risk to the community if she were released from jail now, even for short periods.

Hysop, 42, was charged with second-degree murder in 1997. She was convicted by a jury in 1998 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. She appealed her conviction unsuccessfully. Canada’s Supreme Court refused to hear her case.

She was arrested after emergency officials responded to a 911 call she made. When firefighters arrived, they found her five-year-old daughter Alicia and her three-year-old son Joshua horribly burned.

Alicia later died in hospital. Joshua now lives with his father in a different community.

The Crown said Hysop doused her children with a flammable solvent and set them on fire. At her trial, Hysop claimed the two accidentally torched themselves.

Hysop testified several apparent confessions she made were taken out of context, that her words — heard by officers, nurses, neighbours and ambulance attendants — were misunderstood.

A parole board report, prepared the day of her Feb. 25 hearing, shows Hysop’s story hasn’t changed.

“You provided a brief emotional account of the day of the fire that was consistent with the file information, in other words, you denied the offence and stated you do not know how the fire got started,” the parole board wrote.

“You also denied file information which indicates you are seen as suffering from distress at times to the point of self-harm and/or suicide attempts. You indicate you have never tried to kill yourself.

“You feel you have again been misunderstood.”

Hysop hoped to be released from jail occasionally in order to visit her parents. She also wants to move to a community residential facility somewhere in the Interior and be granted day parole.

The parole board denied both requests, saying the woman requires a “level of intervention” that cannot be managed in the community.

“Your case management team notes that despite counselling and programs, you fail to take responsibility for your offences,” a factor that increases your risk to offend again.