Nova Scotia

Death threat charges dropped against Dalhousie student Stephen Gregory Tynes

The associate dean of Dalhousie University's medical school told court Monday she still fears for her safety, a year after a student allegedly told his psychiatrist he wanted to harm her daughter.

Crown 'trying to get some sense of comfort' for associate dean after charges dropped

Stephen Gregory Tynes, 31, of Truro had his threats-related charges dropped Monday. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

The associate dean of Dalhousie University's medical school told court Monday she still fears for her safety, a year after a student allegedly told his psychiatrist he wanted to harm her daughter.

Stephen Gregory Tynes, 31, was arrested last August after allegedly saying he wanted to shoot people and then kill himself.

He was charged with two counts of uttering threats and one charge of engaging in threatening conduct. 

Monday, the Crown dropped those charges against the suspended medical student, who previously pleaded not guilty. His trial was scheduled for Monday.

'Words would be kept private'

Instead, the Crown is seeking a peace bond against Tynes in connection with the threats charges, asking he stay under conditions for another year, be banned from possessing weapons and stay away from the associate dean and her daughter.

"We weren't able to satisfy the court beyond a reasonable doubt that...the accused had uttered the words to the therapist with the intent that they be taken seriously or used to intimidate or to instill fear in the victim," Crown Prosecutor Eric Taylor said outside court Monday.

"It was expected the words would be kept private."

Tynes also was charged with possession of weapons in connection with the incident. According to search warrants, police say they seized a prohibited weapon, an oversized ammunition clip for a rifle, known as "a banana clip." That charge will go to trial in August.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged the court proceedings.

Tynes said he was treated unfairly

In the peace bond hearing Monday, Tynes's psychiatrist Dr. Terry Chisholm testified that, on July 29, he told her he was afraid of being too aggressive around other people.

The associate dean of the medical school, Evelyn Sutton, was working with Tynes on his re-admission application because he hadn't completed second year classes. Sutton said she also confronted Tynes after other medical students complained about what they felt were inappropriate posts on Facebook. The content of the posts was not revealed in court.

Tynes said in a psychiatric meeting he was feeling angry and boxed in, Chisholm said.

During their next meeting in August, he told Chisholm that he was being treated unfairly and felt he could be forced out. She said he was quite upset and agitated.

Tynes also faces a weapons charge, for which he'll stand trial in August. (Facebook)

Asked if he was suicidal

Chisholm testified she asked Tynes if he felt suicidal.

He said he did not, but if he were to shoot 10 to 15 other people, he'd want to kill himself because he wouldn't want to go to jail.

Police previously alleged in court documents that Tynes said he planned on killing up to 20 people and himself.

"Mr. Tynes was in a therapeutic setting," defense lawyer Stan MacDonald said after court Monday.

"He was expressing his thoughts and feelings at the time and had no intention whatsoever of conveying any kind of threat to anyone."

Tynes also allegedly said if he wanted to harm Sutton, he would kill her daughter, who was a classmate at the medical school, Chisholm testified.

Alarmed and frightened

She said when she told the man she would have to inform others about the threats, he got angry and left her office. Chisholm then contacted Sutton and the police.

Sutton testified she was alarmed and frightened when she received the phone call from Chisholm. 

She locked herself in her office and called security, she said. 

Student rotations cancelled

Tynes was arrested in Truro, N.S., and later released on bail with conditions that he live at his father's home in the town and have no contact with the two women he was alleged to have threatened.

Conditions included he had to stay away from peninsular Halifax and all Dalhousie campuses.

'Sense of comfort'

Tynes has not had contact with either woman in the 10 months since the charges, Sutton testified. 

Sutton said she still fears for their safety, and installed a security system in her home as a result.

"We're trying to get some sense of comfort and protection" for the associate dean and her daughter, prosecutor Taylor said.

Banned from campus

Tynes is suspended and banned from all Dalhousie campuses, "pending the outcome of internal university processes," David Anderson, the dean of the medicine faculty, said in a statement to students Monday.​

An unrelated sexual assault charge against Tynes, dating back to May 2013, is going to be heard in mental health court.