Not criminally responsible: 6 cases

Here's a look at six Canadian cases in which the accused was found not criminally responsible for a crime.

Criminal Code designation takes mental illness into account

Vince Li was found not criminally responsible after he beheaded a fellow passenger aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Here's a look at six Canadian cases in which the accused was found not criminally responsible for a crime.

Jeffrey Arenburg

Arenburg was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder for shooting Ottawa TV sportscaster Brian Smith on Aug. 1, 1995. Smith died the next day, and Arenburg turned himself in to Ottawa police. He was charged with first degree murder, but the judge, prosecutors and defence all agreed that he did not have the mental capacity to understand that the violent act he’d committed was wrong. 

Vince Li

Li was found not criminally responsible in the killing of Timothy McLean, a carnival worker who was beheaded in an unprovoked attack on a Greyhound bus near Portage La Prairie, Man., in July 2008. Psychiatric evidence at Li's trial suggested he is a schizophrenic who suffered a major psychotic episode when he fatally stabbed the 22-year-old McLean, ate some of the body parts and cut off McLean's head.

Allan Schoenborn

The Merritt, B.C., father, who admitted killing his three children, was found not criminally responsible for the April 2008 slayings. After a trial in which the pivotal issue was Schoenborn's state of mind, a judge ruled that the killings were deliberate and planned, but that Shoenborn was not sane at the time he committed them.

Gregory Despres

The 25-year-old was found to have caused the deaths of his elderly neighbours in Minto, N.B., in April 2005, but was declared not criminally responsible for their gruesome slayings. In rendering his verdict, the judge said he believed from the testimony of expert witnesses and Despres's family that he had been suffering from a mental illness for at least a year before the killings and was delusional for at least 24 hours after the incident.

Adenir De Oliveira

The Toronto man pushed two teenage boys in front of a subway train at the Dufferin station in February 2009. The teens rolled out of the way of the oncoming train, but one had to have two toes amputated and the other hurt his knee. De Oliveira was found not criminally responsible, after a trial that heard from a psychiatrist for the defence who diagnosed De Oliveira as suffering from depression with psychotic features.

Kimberly Noyes

The Grand Forks, B.C., woman admitted to police that she killed a 12-year-old autistic boy in her condo with a kitchen knife in August 2009. The 43-year-old was found not criminally responsible for John Fulton's death after a trial that heard from medical experts who testified that at the time of the homicide, Noyes was bipolar and severely depressed, had gone off her medication and was hearing voices.


  • An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Allan Schoenborn as “guilty.” In fact, a judge found that the killings were deliberate and planned by Schoenborn, but that he was not sane at the time.
    Feb 12, 2015 5:43 PM ET