In May of 2011, William Joseph Tait was charged with a number of offences involving violence. Police records show Tait was not taking his medication. He had been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Months later in November of 2011, Tait was again charged with more violent offences. Judge Peter Ross said the evidence was clear that Tait was incapable at the time of appreciating or understanding the nature and consequence of his actions. There was six month between these crimes.. no medication, mentally ill, no treatment, no responsibility!
The release of a 26-year-old New Waterford man now rests with a provincial review board after he was found not criminally responsible Friday for multiple offences. William Joseph Tait will be returned to the East Coast Forensic Hospital and the board must meet within the next 45 days to make an initial assessment of Tait’s mental health. After Friday’s sentencing hearing, Tait was remanded to the Cape Breton Correctional Centre for the weekend before his return to the Dartmouth hospital Monday.
Tait was first sentenced on charges of causing a disturbance and assaulting a police officer after his arrest last year at a doughnut shop. He received a sentence of one day in jail served by his presence in court. Prosecutor Diane McGrath explained to the court the strange circumstances involving the final two set of charges from incidents in May and November 2011.
The first set of charges, involving assault and threats and assault with a weapon, stem from a heated argument Tait was having with his girlfriend. In hearing the commotion, the landlord intervened and told Tait to leave the area. Tait instead fled inside the home but came running back out with a knife in his hand threatening to kill his landlord who was able to overpower Tait and hold him until police arrived.
McGrath said at the time of the offence, Tait was not taking his medication. He was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.
In November, 2011, Tait made contact with a friend requesting he be allowed to stay for a few days, McGrath said. The request was granted as the friend was concerned because Tait was highly agitated and described as running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
The friend showed Tait a pellet gun and the two talked briefly about the gun before the friend went to bed. At around 3 a.m., Tait left the home with the gun and, for some unexplained reason, wearing a pair of women’s white shoes accented with numerous red rhinestones. Witnesses described the shoes as not fitting Tait very well.
McGrath said he first stopped at a convenience store on Prince Street where staff noticed the gun when he bent over. Tait didn’t stay long in the store and staff said he was rambling. Tait then ventured to a nearby gas bar and told the duty clerk he would kill them if they didn’t put money, cigarettes and scratch lottery tickets in a bag. The clerk complied and Tait left returning to his friend’s home to show off his ill-gotten booty.
McGrath said video surveillance from both locations clearly show Tait as the culprit. As result of the two incidents, Tait was charged with weapons offences and armed robbery.
Defence lawyer Ann Marie MacInnes said her client has little memory of the crimes but does accept responsibility for his actions.
In passing sentence, Judge Peter Ross said the evidence was clear that Tait was incapable at the time of appreciating or understanding the nature and consequence of his actions.
Would anyone be criminally responsible had Tait actions ended in the death of someone?
Raymond Taavel is dead. Andre Noel Denny, the man charged with murdering the well-known member of Halifax’s gay community, was a resident of the East Coast Forensic Psychiatric Hospital who had left on an hour-long pass earlier that evening but didn’t return. Court documents show that Denny was troubled and delusional and had a lengthy record of run-ins with the law. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1997, Denny also had a substance abuse problem according to Nova Scotia Supreme Court documents.
In September 2009, court papers reveal Denny was charged with causing “unnecessary injury” to a dog, possession of stolen property (the dog), uttering a death threat to his neighbors and breach of probation. Denny’s court testimony in relation to those charges was often “sprinkled with delusions,” a judge wrote in court papers in October 2009.
Andre Noel Denny was also arrested after a seven-hour standoff at Membertou in 2011. That time he was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a woman, uttering threats and unlawfully confining her.
The extent of Denny’s mental illness was outlined in court proceedings related to the September 2009 crimes at Eskasoni.
Dr. Foley of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital conducted preliminary assessment shortly after arrest. Dr. Foley believed Mr. Denny to be “grossly psychotic” at that time. Dr. Kronfli saw Mr. Denny just days afterwards and, with the benefit of this clinical history and his own observations and assessment, concluded that Mr. Denny was not criminally responsible for what he had done.
The psychiatrist later found his condition had improved after treatment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth. By the late fall of 2009, it was determined he was fit to stand trial but was found not criminally responsible. At this hearing the defense argued that the defendant was in control of his senses while the crown held that Denny should be found NCR and committed.
Judge Peter Ross described a gruesome threat Denny had made to his Eskasoni neighbors. Denny had been living next to them in a trailer for about a month. “He said he was going to ‘slice everyone’s throat’ when they were sleeping,” Denny also stole a three-month-old puppy and slit its throat. The dog was so badly injured that it had to be euthanized, court documents show. Denny told his doctor it was a “devil’s dog” and deemed his actions “part of my delusion,” the court papers said. Denny also testified that these statements were intended to manipulate his doctor in order to secure medicine.
When a police officer saw him in Eskasoni on Sept. 2, she was concerned about his appearance as he was wearing gloves, a heavy jacket and a scarf across his face even though it was warm enough to wear shorts. “His presentation caused her such concern she put out a warning to other members who might come in contact with him,” the documents said.
According to other court documents, Denny also faced charges of resisting arrest and breaching an undertaking on Feb. 14, 2009. He was found responsible for this earlier incident.
Now Raymond Taavel’s life has been cut short at the hands of Andre Noel Denny. Whether or not Denny is again found Not Criminally Responsible for murdering Raymond is yet to be determined. But Denny was not some unknown assailant walking the streets. Denny was known to police, the courts, the mental health establishment… Denny was in their care and they were responsible to keep him from us!
So while the judicial system will ignore those responsible for this travesty, it does not make them any less responsible. We need a Tim’s Law for Tim. But we also need Tim’s Law for Raymond Taavel.
Much of this story and the research found in the content came from the dedicated staff at the Chronicle Herald in Halifax. The Chronicle Herald continues to provide updated coverage of the Raymond Taavel murder. The original story and details