B.C. board backs moving child killer Schoenborn to Manitoba
The man found not criminally responsible for killing his three children in Merritt in 2008 should be transferred to Manitoba, the B.C. Review Board concluded Friday.
Allan Schoenborn requested the move himself at his fourth review hearing at the Colony Farm Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam on Friday.
Schoenborn wishes to move to Selkirk, Man. to be closer to his mother. His treatment team and the Crown support the move.
Speaking at the review, Schoenborn said his mother has visited him seven times in last year. He told the board she loves him and he loves her.
"There's only select movement in the hospital now and it's starting to become bothersome. And, I miss my Mom," he said.
It was acknowledged Schoenborn continues to be a risk to public safety and there should be no change to his custodial order. All parties agreed a transfer would be in his interest.
Schoenborn's doctor told the board, "At this time of his care he still requires detention in psychiatric hospital."
The Crown said Schoenborn's re-integration will be better addressed and management of risk will be better managed in Manitoba.
No one from the family of Schoenborn's estranged wife, Darcie Clarke, spoke at the hearing.
Attorneys General in B.C. and Manitoba still both have to approve the move before Schoenborn can be transferred to Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
Darcie Clarke's family are opposing the move to Manitoba because they have relatives nearby and say they will lobby B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond not to approve the transfer.
Allan Schoenborn has had three review hearings so far and each time his former wife and her family have said they are fearful he will be released.
Under existing laws, Schoenborn is entitled to an annual hearing before the B.C. Review Board at the hospital he now calls home.
In 2011, the review board ruled he should be eligible for escorted visits in Port Coquitlam, near his former wife's home in Coquitlam, but the decision was reversed following widespread community outrage.
Mike Clarke says his sister Darcie remains terrified he will be released.
"If he were to get out of jail, or out of where he is now being held, he would go after my sister and he would finish the job that he started," says Clarke.
Last week, the federal Conservative government announced new amendments to the Criminal Code that include stringent restrictions for people found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the changes would create a new legal designation to protect the public from an accused person designated as "high-risk non-criminally responsible" and ensure victims would be notified when they are discharged.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart told Kathryn Gretsinger, guest host of CBC Radio One's The Early Edition, he welcomes the new federal changes.
"I think we now have probably struck the balance that needed to be struck. It's never going to be perfect, but these are challenging illnesses, there's no question," he said.
Review board chair questions amendments
But Bernd Walter, the chairman of the B.C. Review Board, says the new amendments could actually have the opposite of the desired effect by discouraging plea bargains that see mentally ill offenders opt for treatment.
"You're going to have a lot more mentally disordered people who have gone to jail for a period of time, have been untreated, and are back on the street untreated. So in that sense it doesn't really make people much safer," said Walter.
Defence lawyers may be less inclined to enter a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder if the result is a three-year minimum sentence, Walters says.
"Nobody was at risk with the previous system from the review board process. Recidivism is much lower than for the convicted population, and they're already spending three to five times longer indoors, so the question becomes, 'What is it that we're trying to fix here?'" Walter said.
The last time Schoenborn faced a B.C. Review Board hearing, he was severely beaten afterwards by another patient. Hospital officials believe the assault was brought on by his notoriety.
With files from The Canadian Press