British Columbia

Schoenborn decision continues to victimize ex-wife

The ex-wife of Allan Schoenborn is reportedly relieved the decision to allow him escorted day passes is under review, but her family says the process continues to victimize a fragile woman who is struggling to heal.
Allan Schoenborn was granted the right to escorted day passes last week by the B.C. Review Board. (CBC)

The ex-wife of Allan Schoenborn is reportedly relieved the decision to allow him escorted day passes is under review, but her family says the process continues to victimize a fragile woman who is struggling to heal.

Darcie Clarke lives in Coquitlam, near where her ex-husband, the man who killed their three children, is now in a psychiatric hospital.

Last week, the B.C. Review Board ruled that Schoenborn was eligible to be granted escorted day passes from the psychiatric hospital in Port Coquitlam for outings in the community.

But on Wednesday B.C.'s Attorney General said the panel is reconsidering that decision after learning Schoenborn's ex-wife now lives in the same community and the new review should take place within the next 14 days.

Decision terrified ex-wife

Darcie Clarke's cousin, Stacy Galt, says Clark was terrified when she first heard that she might run into the man who killed her children three years ago at her home in Merritt, B.C.

"She moved in with me about 2½ years ago when the court case was still going on up in Merritt. So we thought he would be in jail, we never thought this would happen," said Galt.

Allan Schoenborn and Darcie Clarke's three children, 10-year-old Kaitlynne, eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon, were found slain in their Merritt, B.C., trailer home. (CBC)

Clarke first learned about the decision to grant Schoenborn the right to visit the community from the news media, and Galt said she doesn't buy the excuse that no one knew Clark lives in the neighbourhood.

"She's been living with me for the past 2½ years, almost three years, so she was here before he was and Crown obviously knew that she was here," said Galt.

Galt said nobody contacted Clarke to ask where she lived when the Review Board decided to grant Schoenborn the right to escorted day passes.

Galt said Clarke remains in a very fragile mental state and has only recently been able to start therapy. But new fears that she might run into her ex-husband out on day passes in the community has re-victimized her and made her recovery much more difficult.

"This is the thing that hurts me so deeply is seeing her finally get out of the house, get into the public, and now she's reverted right back," she said.

"He's still affecting her life. Allan Schoenborn is still affecting her life, and that's just wrong," she said.

Galt also said the Review Board's requirement that Clarke file a victim impacts statement every year stating how Schoenborn's killing of her three children continues to affect her is a cruel process that continues to victimize her, reducing any hope the grieving mother may have of recovering.

"She's always reminded on a yearly basis exactly what happened. This law should be changed, it's just cruel and, as she says, it's keeping her a victim," said Galt.

Attorney General calls for changes

On Wednesday, the head of the hospital that recommended Schoenborn be eligible for day passes said it tried to contact Clarke but was unable to track her down.

"It should be noted that BCMHAS made great effort to learn the whereabouts of family members who would have an interest in Mr. Schoenborn going out on community visits. This is standard protocol," said a statement issued by Dr. Johann Brink through the Provincial Health Services Authority.

"Unfortunately, some of the individuals connected with this case made great effort to remain anonymous — which is understandable — but it prevented us from knowing about their current residence," said the statement.

Meanwhile, B.C. Attorney General Barry Penner called on the federal government to make amendments to the Criminal Code to deal with individuals charged with a serious offence and found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder

He wants to see review boards assessing these cases use at least two psychiatric opinions and be required to ask about the whereabouts of the victims as part of determining whether absences are granted.

But Penner also wants the safety of the community to be paramount concern for review boards.

"Currently, the mental disorder portion of the Criminal Code provides that, in these dispositions, a review board must take into consideration the need to protect the public from dangerous persons, the mental condition of the accused, the reintegration of the accused into the society and the other needs of the accused," wrote Penner in his letter to the federal Attorney General Rob Nicholson.

"British Columbia is of the view that these provision do not adequately protect the public, and there is a need to amend the Criminal Code, both for the protection of the public and to ensure that public confidence in the justice system is not eroded," he wrote.

Lyle Hillby, the Crown counsel who has appeared for the provinicial attorney general before the Review Board, noted it is not allowed to punish people in Schoenborn's situation.

"The crime itself is so alarming that the concept of punishment not being a factor is disturbing, but the review board is very alive to the risk that the person poses and they can only address management of risk, there's no punitive component to their decisions and their orders," he said.

Schoenborn attacked at hospital

Meanwhile, CBC News has learned Schoenborn was recently attacked by fellow inmates at the psychiatric hospital in Port Coquitlam.

Sources tell CBC News Allan Schoenborn was assaulted by  two fellow inmates last Thursday at the Colony Farm Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.

He was struck by pool balls but not seriously injured, according to the sources.