De Patie killer to be released next week

Darnell Pratt leaving Kent Institution, seven years after dragging death

Darnell Pratt was released from prison in November but violated parole two days later and returned to Kent prison after two weeks on the run.  He will be released again next month.

Darnell Pratt was released from prison in November but violated parole two days later and returned to Kent prison after two weeks on the run. He will be released again next month.

The young man who ran over and dragged a Maple Ridge gas station attendant to death will be out of prison again next week, despite twice violating previous parole conditions upon previous releases.

Darnell Darcy Pratt leaves the maximum-security Kent Institution in Agassiz just six months after breaching curfew after being released late last year, as is mandatory under Canadian law.

Pratt was just 16 in March 2005, when he struck and killed 24-year-old gas station attendant Grant De Patie in a stolen car while fleeing an Esso station on Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge without paying for gas.

“They just find new forgiveness for him,” said De Patie’s father Doug upon learning of Pratt’s release. “He doesn’t have to earn a single thing to earn his way to freedom. He is forced upon us regardless of his condition.”

By law, most federal inmates are automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. Pratt’s sentence officially ends July 12.

Pratt has been released into the community twice so far and violated parole conditions within days on both occasions.

The 22-year-old failed to return to Victoria halfway house he was staying at two days after his last statutory release in November.

Police issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest and he surrendered himself to police after two weeks.

Pratt was first granted statutory release in June 2010, but violated curfew just two days after he was paroled to a Kamloops halfway house.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Pratt pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced in May 2006 as an adult to nine years minus time served, for a total of seven years and three months in prison.

In April 2007, the B.C. Court of Appeal reduced the nine-year sentence to seven years, making the sentence, after credit for time served, five years and 10 months.

In 2008, four more months were added to his sentence after he pleaded guilty to assaulting another inmate while in custody.