WINNIPEG – The federal Opposition leader and the mother of a man who was beheaded and cannibalized on a Greyhound bus are criticizing a decision to grant complete freedom to the man who committed the gruesome act.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said in a Facebook post that the release of Will Baker — who was formerly Vince Li — doesn’t seem right and that Justin Trudeau must put the rights of victims first.
Baker was found not criminally responsible in the killing of Tim McLean in the summer of 2008 due to schizophrenia and has been granted more freedom and privileges every year at hearings by a Criminal Code Review Board.
The board’s decision on Friday means he will no longer be subject to any conditions or monitoring to ensure he takes his medication.
“On the evening of July 30, 2008, Li boarded a Greyhound bus and beheaded 22-year-old Tim McLean. But now Li is a free man and he’s even legally changed his name to Will Baker. He’ll be living not too far away from Tim McLean’s mother,” Ambrose said in the post.
“I think I speak for a lot of Canadians when I say this doesn’t seem right.”
The victim’s mother, Carol de Delley, declined comment Friday in a Facebook post, saying she had “no words.”
On Saturday, de Delley posted that she wanted Baker to be legally obligated to treat his illness.
“I’ve been telling the public for 9 yrs this was coming,” de Delley said in the post.
Conservative member of Parliament James Bezan has also criticized Baker’s release. He said earlier in the week it would be an insult to de Delley and McLean’s other relatives.
Baker started living on his own in a Winnipeg apartment last November but was still subject to rules and nightly monitoring to ensure he took his medication.
His doctors described him as a model patient who had not been treated for schizophrenia at the time of his attack. After his arrest and placement at the hospital, he responded well to medication and understood that he must continue to take it to keep his illness at bay, they said.
Some of the people who responded to Ambrose’s call for Trudeau to prioritize the rights of victims noted the killing, sentencing and gradual relaxing of conditions took place while the federal Tories were still in power.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person doesn’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
The ruling added there must be clear evidence of a significant risk to the public for the review board to continue imposing conditions after a person is found not criminally responsible.