Vince Li, man in bus beheading, granted unsupervised passes to Winnipeg
Manitoba Review Board says it may consider letting Li move to group home later
The man who beheaded a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008 has been granted more freedoms from the hospital where he is living, this time in the form of unsupervised day passes to visit Winnipeg.
The review board said Li must continue to live at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre or at the PsychHealth unit at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. As well, he must continue taking his medication.
However, Li will be granted day passes to visit Winnipeg unsupervised as long as he carries a working cellphone with him — both for his own safety and that of the public.
Li has been staying at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre since he was found not criminally responsible for stabbing and beheading Tim McLean, a 22-year-old carnival worker, aboard a Greyhound bus in July 2008.
The prospect of Li getting more freedom horrifies McLean's mother, Carol de Delley, who wants Li and other offenders declared not criminally responsible to be kept in custody.
"That's what I need to move forward, carry on. I'll never get my son back regardless of what I do, or what I've done already."
But Chris Summerville, chief executive officer of the Schizophrenic Society of Canada, says Li has been a model patient who is soft-spoken, humble, remorseful for what he did and determined to stay on his schizophrenia medication.
Summerville, who visits Li regularly in Selkirk, said Li deserves a chance to get on with his life.
Psychiatrist noted 'profound improvement'
Li and McLean were strangers when they sat next to each other on a bus ride to Winnipeg from Edmonton on July 30, 2008. Li's attack was unprovoked — he said he heard voices telling him to kill McLean.
In an 2012 interview with Summerville, Li said he had believed he was chosen by God to save people from an alien attack and later understood the voices he heard as schizophrenia.
Psychiatrist Dr. Steven Kremer told the review board at a hearing earlier this week that Li has had no hallucinations in over a year, he takes his medication, and he has had "profound improvement" in his mental status.
Various assessment tools show he is of low risk to re-engage in violence, Kremer added.
Should Li be transferred to a group home, staff there would ensure he continued the medication necessary to manage his schizophrenia, the doctor said.
In its decision, the review board said after it receives further reports on Li's progress, as well as a detailed community living plan, it may "consider and approve an increase in pass privileges, including an extended pass to reside at a Level V group home in the community, subject to any further conditions deemed necessary and appropriate by the board."
When Li's case was reviewed by the board last year, he was granted unsupervised outings from the Selkirk Mental Health Centre into the nearby city of Selkirk, just north of Winnipeg, and nearby communities and beaches.
It was the first time Li was allowed on his own in public since the Greyhound incident.
'This is not real freedom'
In the past year, Li was also granted passes to Winnipeg for up to a full day, but they were supervised excursions. The new decision allows him to visit the Manitoba capital unsupervised.
Summerville said he fears it may be risky for Li to be on the streets of Winnipeg by himself.
"This is not real freedom. I don't consider it freedom because he will be in bondage to public sentiment, public prejudice," he said.
He added that Li has encountered public backlash and even threats during previous day trips.
"We hope that nothing negative will come of this," Summerville said.
"But when you read the blogs and the tweets … there are a lot of people who would wish that he would just disappear from the face of this Earth."
Li's release 'unacceptable,' says Winnipeg MP
Shelley Glover, MP for Saint Boniface, reiterated that Vince Li beheaded a man before expressing dissatisfaction with the Manitoba Review Board's decision.
"It is unacceptable that dangerous and violent offenders are released into our communities, when they pose a threat to society," Glover said in a statement.
"We made changes to the Not Criminally Responsible Act to ensure that dangerous offenders at risk of re-offending are kept behind bars, where they belong."
Glover closed the statement by saying her heart goes out to Tim McLean's family.