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B.C. man who planned gruesome murders of mom, grandmother gets extended day parole

Darren Huenemann was 18 when he convinced his classmates to kill his family over inheritance
Convicted of conspiring to kill his mother and grandmother more than 30 years ago, Darren Gowen – formerly Huenemann – is on day parole, extended six more months in a recent parole board decision. (Parole Board of Canada photo)

A Saanich man who conspired to kill his mother and grandmother more than 30 years ago has had his day parole extended another six months.

Darren Gowen — formerly known as Darren Huenemann — was one of one of three men convicted in the gruesome double murder in 1990.

Gowen, then 18, arranged for Mount Doug secondary classmates Derik Lord and David Muir to kill his mother and grandmother in her Tsawwassen home. Sharon Huenemann was 47 and her mother, Doris Leatherbarrow, was 69 when the women were beaten and stabbed as they prepared to serve the two teens dinner.

All three were convicted in 1992.

Gowen was also convicted of escaping and assault causing bodily harm in 1996.

READ ALSO: Saanich man who planned his mother’s, grandmother’s murder denied unescorted absences

Now 50, Gowen was first granted six months of day parole in August 2022. That was extended by the Parole Board of Canada through an in-office review released Feb. 2.

The board noted that in the community, Gowen has respected all special conditions, kept to himself at the halfway house has not required discipline and showed “willingness to adhere to prosocial values.”

The decision notes Gowen has been transparent with his case management team. It also notes that during his two months of required volunteer work, he had a good attitude.

“However, you showed frustration after a few weeks,” the decision reads. “You were relentlessly asking if you could start looking for a job. Your caseworkers are unsure if it was due to your lack of control over your anxiety or if it was some form of manipulation to try to obtain the desired answers to your question. However, they are of the opinion that it showed lasting signs of rigid thinking. It was reflected to you and you eventually complied.”

RELATED: Former Saanich resident convicted in double murder has day parole extended

A psychological assessment done in May 2020 showed a personality composed of narcissistic, antisocial and obsessive traits and Gowen’s risk of violent recidivism was assessed as moderate-low over the medium and long terms.

“In its conclusion, the psychologist mentions that the murders occurred in a particular and specific context when you were approaching adulthood. Over the last decades, you have clearly done a great deal of work on yourself, which has allowed you to approach your reality, but especially that of others, in a more sensitive and open manner,” the decision reads.

Gowen started working with a job integration program in November 2022 that aims to support people who are unemployed. So far the supervisor feedback is positive and his plan includes working at the same job and getting involved with support groups.

“Although you have shown ability to persevere and set realistic goals for the future, your caseworkers are of the opinion that you need to continue working on your patience. You also tend to feel discouraged when things do not go as quickly as you would like,” the decision reads.

The board found he remains engaged in correctional planning and transparent with his case management team to continue working on outstanding issues.

Gowen remains under conditions to have no direct or indirect contact with any family members of the victims and not to associate or communicate with any person you know or have reason to believe is involved in criminal activity.


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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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