Terry Driver as he looked around the time of the killing of Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of Misty Cockerill in Abbotsford in October 1995. No current photos are available of Driver.

Terry Driver as he looked around the time of the killing of Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of Misty Cockerill in Abbotsford in October 1995. No current photos are available of Driver.

‘Abbotsford Killer’ Terry Driver denied parole, deemed ‘high risk’ to re-offend

Driver murdered Tanya Smith, 16, and seriously injured Misty Cockerill, 15, in 1995

The man known as the “Abbotsford Killer” has been denied both day and full parole, after the Parole Board of Canada found him at a “very high risk for violent and sexual re-offending.”

The decision made against Terry Driver was made April 19. Documents on the matter were released Wednesday (May 12) to the Abbotsford News.

Driver, 56, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 1997 of the brutal killing of Tanya Smith, 16, and the attempted murder of her friend Misty Cockerill, 15, in October 1995.

The pair had been walking to a friend’s house near the former MSA Hospital on McCallum Road when they were approached by Driver. He was holding a baseball bat and demanded that they undress and perform sexual acts on him.

TANYA SMITH

He beat Cockerill several times on the head with the bat, rendering her unconscious. He then sexually assaulted Smith, beat her with the bat, drove her to a fishing site on the Vedder River and abandoned her body, which was later found.

Cockerwill managed to escape to the hospital, where she was treated for serious injuries, including a fractured skull, a broken arm and a broken finger.

Driver, who was married with kids at the time, then began contacting police and taunting them, indicating he was the killer and revealing evidence that had not been publicly released. The calls were made from payphones.

He also removed Smith’s headstone from the cemetery where she was buried and placed it on a vehicle outside of a local radio station. Words written on the headstone included “She was not the first” and “She won’t be the last.”

Driver was identified as a suspect in 1996 when police released an audio recording of a call he had made to them.

In February 1996, he threw a note taped to a pair of pliers through the window of an Abbotsford home. The letter confessed to the rape and murder of Smith and the assault on Cockerill – who later became a victims’ rights advocate – as well as three other assaults on women in Abbotsford.

RELATED: Misty Cockerill assisting support group for those impacted by homicide

Police were able to obtain a fingerprint from the sticky side of the tape that matched Driver’s, and he was arrested and charged.

He was sentenced to life for first-degree murder, attempted murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and robbery. A first-degree murder conviction sets parole eligibility at 25 years.

Driver received additional convictions – and was designated a dangerous offender – in January 2000 for two other assaults. One occurred in September 1994, when he punched a woman in the face and dragged her by her legs to a secluded area. The victim fought back and was able to get away.

The second assault was in August 1995, when he hit a woman on the head with a baseball bat and stole her purse as she lay unconscious on the sidewalk.

In denying him parole last month, the parole board stated that Driver has shown little remorse or victim empathy, is “not considered to be engaged in (his) correctional plan” and presents an “undue risk to society.”

The parole board documents indicate that Driver was involved in a “violent incident” in prison in 2007. And in 2019, while working as a caregiver in the Peer Assisted Living program, he assaulted a client.

A February 2021 psychological assessment determined that Driver is a “very high risk for violent and sexual recidivism,” according to the documents.

“The board remains ever mindful of the nature and gravity of your index offences and the significance of the harm you have caused,” the board state. “…Your actions have been life altering and have caused serious harm.”

The documents do not indicate where Driver is currently incarcerated.



vhopes@abbynews.com

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Misty Cockerill is now an advocate for victims’ rights. (Abbotsford News file photo)

Misty Cockerill is now an advocate for victims’ rights. (Abbotsford News file photo)