By Chris Shannon
SYDNEY – A former Canadian reservist convicted of killing a fellow soldier in Afghanistan more than six years ago remains steadfast in his claim he was reacting to a “perceived threat” in the tent he shared with the victim at the Kandahar Airfield base.
In parole board documents obtained by the Cape Breton Post, Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay refused to accept the premise brought forward by prosecutors that he and Stellarton native Kevin Megeney, 25, were playing a game of “quick draw” with their nine-millimetre pistols on March 6, 2007.
Wilcox had not discharged his gun before leaving his post at the main gate to the multinational military base.
“You deny any horseplay, stating the death was the result of your response to a perceived threat,” the decision reads.
However, it was noted Wilcox still “displayed a high level of remorse and victim empathy” for his actions.
The report stated he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety as a result of his time spent in Afghanistan.
During his November 2011 sentencing for criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty, military judge Lt.-Col. Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil said Wilcox was well-trained and “should have known better” than to point a loaded pistol at his friend.
But he added that officers in the Canadian military were partly to blame for the lax firearm safety regulations in Afghanistan at the time.
It was Wilcox’s second court martial and conviction on the charges. An earlier verdict in July 2009 was set aside a year later after his lawyers successfully argued the military jury wasn’t properly balanced.
After serving seven months in prison in June 2012, Wilcox was given two 72-hour unescorted temporary absences and granted day parole to be spent in a halfway house.
The parole board said Wilcox was at a low risk to reoffend.
The 27-year-old was granted full parole in January with the expectation his reintegration into the community would be a smooth transition, the board stated.
Megeney’s family declined a chance to appear before the parole board at Wilcox’s hearing. The board relied on victim impact statements that were filed at the time of sentencing.
Reached by telephone Monday, the victim’s mother, Karen Megeney, told the Cape Breton Post her family is moving on with their lives.
“It’s not like we’re glad that he would be out or anything, we just don’t care,” she said.
Wilcox was given credit for the 3 1/2 months of jail time he had already served in military and federal prisons when released on parole.
Wilcox remains banned from possessing prohibited weapons for the rest of his life. He also cannot possess other firearms until 2023.