Man who stabbed priest at Saint Joseph Oratory found not criminally responsible

The court's decision follows the recommendation of the psychiatrist who assessed Vlad Cristian Eremia after the March attack.

27-year-old Montrealer was sent for psychosocial evaluation after his arrest

Police arrested Vlad Cristian Eremia at Saint Joseph's Oratory on March 22. (Submitted by Jean-François Lefebvre)

The 27-year-old man who stabbed Rev. Claude Grou during a mass at Saint Joseph's Oratory on March 22 was found not criminally responsible on Wednesday at the Montreal courthouse.

The ruling follows the conclusions of the psychiatrist who evaluated Vlad Cristian Eremia after the incident.

On the morning of the stabbing, Eremia went to mass armed with a knife with a 30-centimetre blade. He stood up from his pew, charged up to the priest and stabbed the priest twice, inflicting shallow wounds.

Eremia was quickly wrestled to the floor by security guards, and Montreal police showed up a short time later to arrest him.

Grou returned to the oratory a week after the attack, telling congregants that he had never seen the man who stabbed him before but he was open to meeting him.

"I have no resentment toward that person. On the contrary, I feel he is a person who needs help, and I'm sure he will get the help he needs, and I pray the Lord will assist him in his progress," Grou said.

Eremia heard voices, says Crown

Eremia was charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon on March 23. At that time, prosecutors opposed his release and requested he receive a psychosocial evaluation.

A Crown prosecutor noted that Eremia made nonsensical remarks during his arrest and interrogation by the police. He said voices in his head has told him to act, the prosecutor said.

In Canadian court cases where mental illness is an issue, a person can be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

It does not mean the accused is acquitted of the crime, but it does clear the way for treatment of the mental illness, with the goal of balancing public safety and treating the offender with dignity.

Eremia will be held at the Philippe-Pinel Institute, the forensic psychiatric hospital in Montreal's east end, for as long as medical authorities there deem necessary.

With files from Radio-Canada's Geneviève Garon