Calgary mass killer Matthew de Grood can be eased into community: review board
28-year-old to leave Alberta Hospital in Edmonton unsupervised for outings
A review board has ruled that a mentally ill man found not criminally responsible after killing five young people in Calgary in 2014 can be eased back into the community.
With prior approval, Matthew de Grood will be able to leave Alberta Hospital in Edmonton unsupervised for outings. With added supervision, he can spend up to three days in the city.
The Alberta Review Board has also decided de Grood, 28, will be able to travel within Alberta for up to a week, as long as the trip has been OK'd and he is with a responsible adult.
It also says de Grood could possibly take up residence in a 24-hour supervised group home in Edmonton.
The psychiatrist in charge of de Grood's medical treatment said the man's risk of reoffending is low.
But Dr. Santoch Rai also told the Alberta Review Board that if de Grood were to commit another offence, it would be severe.
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A judge in 2016 found de Grood not criminally responsible for the killings because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time.
A trial heard that de Grood, who was then 22, believed that the devil was talking to him and that a war was about to begin, signalling the end of the world, when he arrived at the Calgary party, which was being held to mark the end of the school year.
He killed Zackariah Rathwell, 21; Jordan Segura, 22; Kaitlin Perras, 23; Josh Hunter, 23; and Lawrence Hong, 27.
The victims' families had previously expressed their wishes for de Grood to be designated as "high-risk" NCR (not criminally responsible), which would mean he could go up to three years between hearings.
Gregg Perras, father of Kaitlin Perras, said he was not surprised by the review board's decision.
"We've been punched in the head almost every time by this process," Perras said. "So, I was expecting them to do exactly what the treatment team said. It's mind boggling that he could have unsupervised access to the community this year."
Previously the families said the annual reviews of de Grood's treatment derailed their healing process. Perras said de Grood is hoping to take a week long vacation with his parents.
"If he was in the judicial process he would have [received] 125 years in jail."
Josh Hunter's father, Barclay Hunter, also said it's hard to understand.
"It's hard for the average person to wrap their head around," Hunter said. "Why this is acceptable and why this would happen … I think he needs to be treated fairly and humanely and treated for his illness. But you know our goal is to see that people that cross that threshold in severe cases like this are not ever considered for absolute discharge."
With files from Lucie Edwardson