British Columbia

Murder-suicide of B.C. mom and autistic son shows need for more support: family

The sister of Angie Robinson, who killed her autistic son and then herself, said the province needs to provide more support for parents of children with special needs.

Angie Robinson killed her autistic son and took her own life in April 2014

Robbie Robinson, 16, was killed by his mother, Angie, who then took her own life in April 2014. (Live Journal/Facebook)

The sister of Angie Robinson, a Prince Rupert woman who killed her autistic son Robbie, and then herself in April 2014, said Robinson was desperate caring for a teenage son whose behaviour got worse, as supports fell away.

In a plea Monday for the B.C. government to provide more support to parents of children with special needs, Michelle Watson described her sister's struggle with depression, domestic abuse and a violent son.

"She had no support. Everything that she had had for Robert — as he grew older and needed more support and services — was taken away from him," said Watson.

Watson, and the advocacy group Inclusion BC, want the government to implement the recommendations from the coroners inquest into the murder-suicide, including more autism supports in remote and rural communities.

Calls for help unanswered

Angie Robinson was depressed, said her sister, and had attempted suicide twice in the last three years of her life. RCMP were regularly called to her home to deal with abuse from Robbie's father, who did not live with them.

Robbie, 16, was regularly having breakdowns and head-butting objects, including concrete and the floor, as well as lashing out physically at his mother, said Watson.

Watson remembers Robbie's sixteenth birthday, when a planned walk on a favourite forest trail led to a breakdown, and Robbie smashed the truck's back window with his head. In the ER, the teenager had another violent episode and the doctor called the RCMP, said Watson.

"This was when she confided in me that she felt she could not take care of him any longer."

Angie Robinson had respite care for Robbie for awhile in Terrace, but that was withdrawn in 2013, "due to his behaviour, size and needs" said Watson.

She asked for assistance from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, but the requested supports including a respite worker were not available, said Watson.

"That tragedy was completely preventable," said Watson, though she never suspected Robbie was at risk of violence from his mother.

'We're a province in crisis'

Inclusion BC, a non-profit organization that advocates for people with developmental disabilities, said it's taking the unusual step of asking to partner with the government to improve supports for families.

"The coroner's inquest made it clear that children with special needs do not have access to information and advocacy support," said executive director Faith Bodnar in a release.

The group is proposing six regional advocates, which wouldn't be enough to solve all problems, but would be a start, said Bodnar.

"We're a province in crisis here," she said. "Robert would be alive today ... and Angie might have had a fighting chance to heal if our government had listened and responded to her."

With files from Richard Zussman


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