Full parole for woman serving life sentence for boy's 1980s murder
An Ontario woman serving a life sentence for the murder of an eight-year-old boy in the 1980s has been granted full parole after officials found she had taken steps to improve her chances of rehabilitation.
Amina Chaudhary, 57, has been on day parole since 2016 and was denied full parole the following year because authorities felt she was blaming others for her fate.
Though she continues to assert her innocence, the Parole Board of Canada last week found Chaudhary has worked hard since then to address her issues and acquire skills to facilitate her reintegration into society.
It noted she has become more transparent with her parole officer and navigated several major life stressors, including reuniting with a son she had given up for adoption decades ago as well as with one of her children with her current spouse.
Chaudhary was found guilty in 1984 of killing her former lover's nephew -- a conviction she has challenged repeatedly, eventually exhausting her legal options.
She met her husband, also a convicted murderer, while in pre-trial custody, and had three children with him while in prison. Those children are now adults, having been raised by friends or family members.
Chaudhary plans to live with her husband while on release, according to the board's decision. He is also on parole and suffered a stroke in recent years, leaving him in need of care.
Family issues, including her husband's health and renewed contact with her children, are among the stressors Chaudhary has worked to manage while on day parole, the board wrote.
Chaudhary recently reconnected with a son conceived in a previous, abusive marriage and put up for adoption, and discovered he has also been incarcerated, the board said.
"You expressed concerns with his criminal past and are wary of how this might impact you ... You mentioned that your son's presence triggers old traumas for you and you are receiving counselling in this regard," the board said in its decision.
"To your credit, you have restricted contact and have decided to take things slowly with him."
Chaudhary's children with her current husband have special needs and resuming contact with one of them has brought new challenges, the board said, noting she appeared to be proceeding cautiously.
"You mentioned that initial contacts were stressful, but that you utilized appropriate resources and supports to help you cope. Having your child reside with you was considered, but you have taken the position that this is premature and would cause undue stress to you," the panel said.
Chaudhary also faces deportation, which she identified as another source of stress, but said she was complying with federal authorities while she seeks to challenge the order on humanitarian grounds.
"You indicated that you have done all that has been asked of you and are managing your stress appropriately," the board said, adding that handling such pressures has been a struggle for her in the past.
"The board believes that you have been working hard to address your rehabilitation needs and have acquired tools and skill to help you do just that."
Chaudhary was first granted day parole in 2005 and her husband was given full parole, but both were taken back into custody in 2010 over concerns about financial irregularities.
She was also released on day parole for six months in 2012 but spent that time in custody on a deportation order, which immigration officials have not been able to enforce because neither India nor the U.K. will issue her travel documents.
At her trial, prosecutors argued Chaudhary killed eight-year-old Rajesh Gupta in a fit of violent rage because the boy's uncle, her lover, had gone to India for an arranged marriage to another woman.
The boy was strangled in early 1982 with the drawstring cord of his jacket, his body packed in a cardboard box and dumped in an east Toronto spot where the former couple used to meet.
Chaudhary initially confessed but later recanted, saying she was pregnant and injured at the time and would not have been able to kill a struggling child.
However, testimony from Charles Smith, a now-disgraced pathologist, said autopsy photos indicated Gupta had been knocked out before he was slain. The Innocence Project later attempted to find the photos to have them re-examined, to no avail.