Nova Scotia

Psychiatric assessment delayed in Taavel death

The Nova Scotia man accused in the beating death of a gay rights activist in Halifax will have to be seen by an Ontario doctor for his court-ordered psychiatric assessment.
Andre Denny is charged with second-degree murder in the death of gay activist Raymond Taavel. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia man accused in the beating death of a gay rights activist in Halifax will have to be seen by an Ontario doctor for his court-ordered psychiatric assessment.

Andre Denny is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Raymond Taavel, 49, who was found beaten outside Menz Bar on Gottingen Street last month.

Denny, who was arrested in a nearby alley, was a patient at the East Coast Forensic Hospital who had been issued a one-hour unescorted pass but failed to return to the facility.

The incident prompted government officials in Nova Scotia to launch a review of Denny's temporary release from custody to determine whether all policies and procedures were followed and whether they are adequate.

Denny had an unscheduled appearance on Tuesday in Halifax provincial court, where the Crown read a letter from the East Coast Forensic Hospital stating it felt there was a conflict of interest in the case.

The East Coast Forensic Hospital had been tasked with completing a 30-day psychiatric assessment on Denny, prior to his next scheduled court appearance on May 17.

"Because of the involvement of their facility in the circumstances that led to Mr. Denny's release and a review that is being undertaken of that circumstance, they felt it was appropriate that an assessment be conducted by an independent party," Crown attorney Denise Smith told reporters outside the courtroom.

Raymond Taavel died after being beaten on Gottingen Street. (Facebook)

Smith suggested Dr. Hy Bloom — a Toronto-based psychiatrist — perform Denny's assessment, to which the judge agreed.

The judge also approved a 60-day extension for the accused's court-ordered psychiatrist assessment.

Denny will be back in Halifax provincial court on June 18 for a hearing to determine if he is criminally fit to stand trial.

Smith said it was necessary to find an out-of-province expert for the assessment because many of the forensic psychiatrists in Nova Scotia have an association with the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth.

"In order to be considered truly independent, you would have to go outside of Nova Scotia," she said.

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