VANCOUVER – The case of a British Columbia man found not criminally responsible for killing his three children because of a mental illness is up for review, two years after a provincial board opened the door to him receiving supervised day trips.
Allan Schoenborn has yet to be granted escorted day passes, despite the B.C. Review Board delegating the authority to grant them in May 2015 to the director of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in suburban Vancouver.
Schoenborn stabbed his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne and smothered his two sons Max and Cordon, eight and five, at the family’s home in Merritt in April 2008. A court ruled he was experiencing psychosis at the time and believed he was saving his children from a life of crime, and physical and sexual abuse.
Schoenborn’s annual review board hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. His lawyers, Diane Nielsen and Dante Abbey, have not said whether they will request any changes to their client’s custody order.
“Nobody wants an untreated and potentially dangerous person on the street,” Abbey said in an interview.
“The board is ultimately responsible for striking that balance … between protection of the public and safety. And, frankly, they’re not doing a bad job.”
Escorted outings are typically brief, lasting no longer than two hours, Nielsen and Abbey said in an email. Patients are accompanied by at least two staff members and visits are planned at pre-arranged locations near the hospital.
The Crown is also applying separately in B.C. Supreme Court to have Schoenborn designated a high-risk accused, which would end the possibility of any outings, and extend the time between annual review hearings up to three years. Only a new court order could reverse the designation.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper used Schoenborn as an example when introducing the new designation, which can be applied to people found not criminally responsible because of mental disorder.
Lawyer Rishi Gill, who represents Schoenborn in the high-risk accused proceedings, described the change as a “huge waste of resources” that punishes people with mental illness.
“This legislation is purely political,” Gill said, adding that Schoenborn’s next appearance in that case is scheduled for mid-June.
The 2015 review board decision says Schoenborn was diagnosed as having a delusional disorder, a substance abuse disorder and paranoid personality traits, but his symptoms have been in remission for many years.
The document also describes how Schoenborn has suffered “significant negative attention” while in custody because of the notoriety of his offences including taunts, name-calling, threats and physical assault.
The B.C. Review Board sits in panels of three and can order someone to remain in custody or grant them either a conditional or absolute discharge. Custody orders can be tailored to individual cases, Nielsen explained.
Schoenborn’s most recent review hearing was in May 2015. He consented to forego a hearing in 2016 while hearings were held on whether he should be designated a high-risk accused.
— Follow @gwomand on Twitter