Ankle monitor for parolee could have prevented brutal murder of Quebec City woman: coroner

November 9, 2021
Ankle monitor for parolee could have prevented brutal murder of Quebec City woman: coroner

An electronic monitoring system likely could have prevented the death of a 22-year-old woman, a Quebec coroner has found. 

Eustachio Gallese, 51, was on parole after 15 years in prison for the brutal slaying of his ex-spouse when he murdered Marylène Levesque in a hotel in the Quebec City suburb of Sainte-Foy in January last year. Gallese pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years in February 2020.

Gallese had been regularly meeting with Levesque, who he knew through her work at an erotic massage parlour, at hotels around the city in violation of his parole.

In her report released Tuesday, coroner Stéphanie Gamache said Levesque’s death “could probably have been avoided” had the parolee been wearing an ankle monitor. 

She has therefore recommended that these monitors become standard for the release of anyone convicted of homicide tied to domestic violence.

Correctional plan must be reviewed: coroner

The coroner’s report noted that police found Levesque was not aware of Gallese’s history of domestic violence. The report also suggests that the wearing of a monitor could also be a warning sign for the public about the seriousness of previous crimes.

Following Levesque’s murder, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) conducted a joint review of their practices and adopted a series of measures to ensure better monitoring of offenders.

The CSC and the PBC declined interview requests but did send written statements. The parole board called Levesque’s death “senseless and “tragic.” Both agencies offered their condolences to her family and friends, saying they plan to review the coroner’s recommendations.

The CSC says the joint review report also made several recommendations, “all of which CSC has thoroughly reviewed, analyzed and accepted as part of its commitment to do everything possible to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.” 

It says offenders can be required to wear a monitoring device to ensure they’re following their release conditions, though electronic monitoring “does not replace traditional methods of supervising offenders in the community.”

Gamache welcomed the commitment from the correctional services, but said it’s not enough.

In her report, she called the correctional intervention plan prepared for Gallese “a resounding failure,” given that Levesque’s death occurred less than one year after Gallese was granted day parole after serving 15 years. 

“Did they really know what he was doing? Did they understand his risk factors? We really have to make sure that we have services offered that will ensure that violent behaviours are abandoned,” Gamache told Radio-Canada.

She said the two federal organizations must review the correctional plan for Gallese.

Gallese permitted to visit erotic massage parlours

Levesque was found stabbed to death with at least 57 stab wounds in a hotel room on Saint-Louis Road on Jan. 22, 2020. 

At the time, Gallese had been on day parole since March 2019 for the 2004 killing of his former spouse. 

He had been allowed to meet women “only for the purpose of responding to [his] sexual needs,” according to parole board documents. Gallese was living in a halfway house at the time of Levesque’s death. He was due to report all his interactions with women to his case worker, which Gamache said he did not do. 

Gallese’s parole conditions allowed him to visit erotic massage parlours once a month, but Gamache’s report notes that according to police, he went up to three times a week without halfway house workers being aware.

In September 2019, the parole board banned him from attending the establishments for sexual purposes. 

According to his parole conditions, Eustachio Gallese was allowed to visit erotic massage parlours once a month, but a coroner’s report noted that police said he went up to three times a week. In September 2019, the parole board banned him from going to parlours for sexual purposes.  (Radio-Canada)

According to the report, Gallese had grown attached to Levesque and devised a workaround to secretly meet with her multiple times at hotels in the Quebec City region, including the hotel where she was killed. 

Once Gallese felt Levesque becoming more distant, the report said he developed severe bouts of anxiety, lost sleep and was eventually hospitalized for a few days. Medical records show Gallese did not tell doctors about his obsession with Levesque at the time. 

The medical team was also not aware of the severity of the man’s previous crime, which Gamache says could have affected the treatment he received. In her report, she said their lack of awareness “may be due to poor communication with those responsible for managing the man’s release.” 

Gallese was required to follow a curfew from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., unless he was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He also had to communicate with his halfway house every three hours during the day. 

According to the report, the murder took place between 7:22 p.m. and 8:43 p.m. Gallese contacted his halfway house on the night of the murder, claiming he was at an AA meeting.

Province studying electronic monitoring, minister says

“The electronic bracelet with geolocation would have allowed us at least to identify the man’s lies and the subterfuges to act before it was too late,” Gamache argued in an interview with Radio-Canada.

She stopped short of recommending the monitors for all released offenders, stressing during the interview that in the “context of homicides tied to conjugal violence” there is a common thread where the aggressor wants to control another person. 

Deputy Premier and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told media Tuesday that Quebec has been studying the use of electronic bracelets to track violent ex-partners for almost a year and she believes they could be useful.

“[Bracelets are] an important tool, among a lot of tools that we have to have to fight against violence against women … Shelters for women, police forces, judicial system, help for men, too. Because the source of the problem is almost always men.” 

Guilbault says the coroner’s report is addressed to Ottawa because Gallese was released from a federal prison, but noted that she does plan to review the recommendations and “take action” once the full report lands on her desk next week.

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