Nova Scotia

Codey Hennigar found not criminally responsible for murdering mother, grandparents

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has ruled a 32-year-old man who admitted to killing his mother and maternal grandparents is not criminally responsibly for their deaths.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge rules Hennigar is not criminally responsible

Codey Hennigar will be returned to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth and be dealt with by the province's criminal code review board. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has ruled a 32-year-old man who admitted to killing his mother and maternal grandparents is not criminally responsibly for their deaths.

The bodies of Clifford William "Bill" Ward, his wife Ida and their daughter Ann were found on Jan. 7, 2015, in the burned-out remains of the elder Wards' home on the Old Guysborough Road in Wyses Corner, N.S.

Hennigar was subsequently charged with three counts of second-degree murder. But the prosecution and defence argued he was not criminally responsible due to his schizophrenia, and called expert evidence in December to try and convince Justice Patrick Murray.

On Tuesday, Murray agreed.

'Hard to find anything to celebrate'

"It's hard to find anything to celebrate on a day like this," Crown attorney Mark Heerema outside court.

He said the ruling was thorough, and it was clear Murray spent a great deal of time considering both the evidence and the law.

Defence attorney Malcolm Jeffcock called the case a "tragic situation," but agreed the judge's decision was correct.

"It's a sad, sad day for the family and the accused," he said. "But it is an appropriate outcome and a just one."

Three of Tim Ward's family members were killed in the January 2015 fire. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

Tim Ward, whose parents and sister were killed, said he doesn't feel any closure now that the court case has concluded. 

"I don't know what we wanted," he said.

Ward said it's important for everyone to educate themselves about mental illness.

Hennigar to return to forensic hospital

Autopsies showed Bill and Ida Ward died from blunt head trauma, while Ann Ward died from blunt head trauma and carbon monoxide inhalation. Both Ida Ward and Ann Ward are believed to have been alive at the time Hennigar set fire to the home.

Hennigar was arrested shortly after the burning house was discovered. He was driving his grandmother's car and rammed two police vehicles before he could be apprehended.

He's been held in the East Coast Forensic Hospital since shortly after his arrest and has been undergoing treatment for his mental condition. Psychiatrists said they noted gradual improvement since treatment began.

Since he was found not criminally responsible, Hennigar will be returned to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth. The criminal code review board will ultimately determine if and when he is eventually released.

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