Dangerous Offender Who Blinded Student in 2008 Shooting Granted Day Parole

Dangerous Offender Who Blinded Student in 2008 Shooting Granted Day Parole
Brazilian student Jose Neto (right) leans over to his mother Teresa Ribeiro (left) as he speaks at a press conference in Calgary, Alberta on Sept. 26 2008 about a shooting that left him totally blind. (The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal)
Andrew Chen

A man who blinded a student in a 2008 shooting in Calgary, Alberta, has been granted day parole.

In September 2008, Roland Warawa fired a gun during a dispute with a drug dealer in Calgary. A stray bullet hit Brazilian exchange student Jose Neto, who was left permanently blind in both eyes.

Despite pleading guilty to several charges–including the aggravated assault of Neto and discharging a firearm with intent to wound, maim, disfigure or endanger life–Warawa was declared a "dangerous offender," which, under Canadian law, earned him a mandatory sentence to prison for "an indeterminate period" in 2010.

The sentence means that he will remain under supervision indefinitely until the National Parole Board decides he is fit to be conditionally released.

On March 16, Warawa, now in his 40s, appeared before the Parole Board of Canada virtually.

During the hearing, he described the day when he blinded Neto, saying it was "a dumb, cowardly action that I did,” according to a Global News report.

“I was shooting and I missed my target, and here we are with a blinded innocent bystander,” he said.

Warawa attributed much of his criminal history–which includes attempted murder, assaulting a peace officer, theft, break and enter, and robbery–to drug addiction.

He has been clean for two years, after being an addict for over 20 years, Global News reported.

He told the board that he is ready to return to society and build a life with his wife and children.

“I know it’s not going to be easy and I need help and I want the help,” Warawa said. “I’m ready to start living and get out of this system.”

The board said psychological assessments show him to be at high risk of reoffending. While the board denied Warawa full parole, it still granted him day parole for a period of six months, saying that he has made progress that outweighs the risks.

Under day parole, Warawa is required to return to a halfway house each night and must follow other conditions, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol, making no contact with his victims, continuing treatment for substance abuse, and receiving counselling to address violence issues.