Review Board: Vincent Li to be detained in custody… For Now

PROVINCE OF MANITOBA
CANADA

Review Board

IN THE MATTER OF: Part XX.1 Criminal Code of Canada

AND IN THE MATTER OF: Vince Weiguang Li

AND IN THE MATTER OF: A Disposition hearing held in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Monday, June 1, 2009

QUORUM: John Stefaniuk, Chairperson
John Brown, Member
Dr. Thomas Thompson, Member
Dr. Maralyn MacKay, Member
Peggy Dillon, Member

APPEARANCES: Vince Weiguang Li

Mr. A. Libman and Mr. G. Bates,
Counsel for Mr. Li

Ms. C. Deegan,
Counsel for the Attorney General

DISPOSITION AND REASONS

Vince Weiguang Li appeared before the Review Board on Monday, June 1, 2009 for a Disposition hearing pursuant to Section 672.47(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

In making this disposition, we have considered the evidence before the Board at Mr. Li’s hearing, submissions by counsel, the evidence of Dr. S. Yaren and the victim impact statements filed in these proceedings, on June 1, 2009. We have also taken into consideration the need to protect the public from dangerous persons, the present mental condition of Mr. Li and his reintegration into society and his other needs.

Background

Mr. Li was required to appear for this hearing, having been found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder in the Court of Queen’s Bench, Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 5, 2009 with respect to a charge of Second Degree Murder. After rendering the verdict, the presiding justice did not make a disposition but granted an extension of time to 90 days within which the Review Board is required to hold a hearing and make a disposition regarding Mr. Li.

The facts surrounding the index offence and those related to Mr. Li’s background and history are set out in the agreed statement of facts submitted by counsel in Mr. Li’s trial before the Honourable Justice Scurfield in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and the reports of Dr. Rootenberg, Dr. Robertson, and the several progress reports of Dr. Yaren prepared following Mr. Li’s incarceration and the direct evidence of the witnesses which also formed exhibits in this hearing. Those facts were not put in issue by the parties at this hearing.

Mr. Li was born in China in April, 1968, and while there is no history of mental health issues while he was growing up, he was frequently sick and fragile during his early childhood. A maternal uncle had an unspecified mental illness for many years, but there was no other family mental health history. Mr. Li denied any history of truancy, vandalism, or behavioural difficulties during his childhood or young adult years. He was a good student and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in China.

He worked as a computer software engineer, and studied English, with the anticipation of emigrating to Canada, which he did in June, 2001. He married his wife, Ana, in 1995 in China, and, in 2005, went back to China and obtained a divorce, although he maintained a sporadic marital relationship with her until he left her in Edmonton just prior to the index offence. Ana reported that in the summer of 2004, Mr. Li was acting “weird” following several days when he did not sleep or eat regularly, “he cried a lot and told me he saw God”. She thought he was just tired and she bought sleeping pills for him. The symptoms remitted spontaneously in about seven days.

He worked at various jobs in Winnipeg, Thompson and Edmonton after his arrival from China.

He had one psychiatric admission to hospital. In 2005, he went to Ontario from Winnipeg in search of employment. He was picked up by police walking on the highway on his way back to Winnipeg and was admitted to William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke.

According to the reports, in 2008, God’s voice told Mr. Li to move from Edmonton to Winnipeg. He traveled by bus. At a stop in Erickson, Manitoba he left the bus for a time, during which he disposed of some personal possessions. He boarded another bus believing that God may be angry with him for not strictly following God’s instructions, which Mr. Li found to be conflicting. It was on that bus that Mr. Li committed the index offence suddenly and without provocation, while under a paranoid delusion that the deceased victim was a threat to his life, both before and after the deceased victim’s death.

At the time of the hearing, Mr. Li was residing at the PsycHealth Centre in Winnipeg and was under the care of Dr. S. Yaren.

Recommendations

The treatment team recommended that Mr. Li be detained in custody in a locked forensic unit of a psychiatric hospital, either in PX3 at the PsycHealth Centre or in the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, and that if he had to leave the hospital for any reason, he be escorted by the highest level of security

Ms. Deegan, on behalf of the Crown, agreed with the recommendations of the treatment team, and further recommended that if Mr. Li had to leave the secure unit of the hospital, he be accompanied on a two to one basis by Sheriff’s Officers.

Mr. Libman, counsel for Mr. Li, agreed with the treatment team’s ecommendations, but suggested that two to one escort was not required.

Reasons for Decision

Preliminary Matters

At the start of the hearing, Mr. Norman Boudreau, counsel for certain family members of the deceased victim and for others who are connected with the incident giving rise to the index offence, appeared with his co-counsel, Mr. Jay Prober, and sought standing for his clients as parties to these proceedings. Mr. Boudreau, on behalf of his clients, wished to advance the position that Mr. Stefaniuk should recuse himself as Chairman on account of Mr. Stefaniuk’s law firm’s position as counsel for Greyhound Canada in civil litigation commenced by the family of the deceased victim and others against Greyhound and others. He also wished to submit argument on the issue of whether the Board is obligated or entitled to release its Orders and Reasons for Decision to the public.

Prior to the commencement of the hearing, counsel for Mr. Li gave notice to the Board of their intention to raise issues with respect to the appropriateness of and admissibility of all or certain portions of the victim impact statements that were received by the Board. Counsel provided cases in support of their position.

Standing

At the hearing Mr. Boudreau presented two authorities in support of his clients’ position that they should have standing as of right or that they ought to be granted standing by the Board. These were MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Simpson (1996), 8 W.W.R., 305, and Hy & Zel’s Inc. v. Ontario (Attorney General) (1993), 3 S.C.R. 675.

The Board considered each of the authorities at the hearing. In the opinion of the Board neither was particularly germane to the question of standing before a review board under the Criminal Code.

MacMillan dealt with an injunction proceeding which directly affected the rights of the Appellants to continue with a blockade preventing the Plaintiff from shipping its cut timber. Hy & Zel’s dealt with a Provincial Statute regarding the right to work on Sundays. Both cases dealt with the issue of “standing” by unnamed persons,
(the blockaders in MacMillan, and the employees in Hy & Zel’s).

In MacMillan, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the British Columbia Supreme Court had jurisdiction to grant injunctions against unnamed persons, and addressed the issue of standing where a private litigants rights are affected by criminal conduct. The Court concluded that there was no question that the private litigant has such standing. In Hy & Zel’s the issue was whether unnamed persons had standing where a large number of employees sought to have the provisions of a Provincial statute declared unconstitutional. Here the Supreme Court ruled against the Appellants, finding that there were other remedies available to them.

Both cases dealt with the issue of the infringement of private and public rights, and in our opinion are clearly distinguishable. If this Board were to deal with any matters that affected the private or public rights of Mr. Boudreau’s clients, there may be an argument in favour of granting standing, but our sole mandate is clear. The Criminal Code dictates that if Mr. Li represents a significant risk to the safety of the public, we must make a disposition that is least onerous and least restrictive to him. This is not a situation where the victim’s rights are in issue. The harm that has been done is clearly obvious, but our disposition does not affect the family’s rights or those of any other victim in any way. In both cases cited by Mr. Boudreau, the future rights of the litigants were directly affected by the decisions sought, and they clearly had a right to be heard.

The issues before us are based on Mr. Li’s mental status, and his potential for dangerous or violent behaviour, and do not affect the present or future rights of the victims. There is no loss of private or public rights, and therefore no right of standing before this Board.

In terms of any discretionary basis under which the Board might grant such standing, Mr. Boudreau did not present any persuasive argument that would support the exercise of such discretion. In the opinion of the Board, the interests of each and every victim as well as the interests of the public at large are ably represented by counsel for the Attorney General, who is made a party to these proceedings.

Recusal

Because the Board decided that Mr. Boudreau’s clients did not have standing, the Board did not provide him the opportunity to make further submissions; however, out of fairness to parties the Board did put the matter of recusal before them, even though the matter was not raised by the parties themselves. When the question was put to them at the hearing, neither counsel for the Attorney General, nor counsel for Mr. Li expressed support for the position advanced by Mr. Boudreau on behalf of his clients.

In addition the Board is itself satisfied that there is no basis to require Mr. Stefaniuk to recuse himself as Chairperson of the Board. The issues raised in a civil law suit against Greyhound Canada are not in any way associated with the issues to be determined by this Board. If Greyhound has any civil liability, its position does not and cannot affect or be affected by the decision that we must make. As expressed at the outset of the hearing, our sole responsibility is to determine if Mr. Li represents a significant risk to the safety of the public, and then to make the appropriate disposition, having regard to the criteria set out in the Criminal Code. Greyhound has no role in those decisions, either directly or indirectly, does not benefit from those decisions and in our opinion, there is no issue of conflict that would give rise to a need for the Chairperson to recuse himself.

Publication/Disclosure of Reasons for Decision

In our opinion a hearing before this Board is not the appropriate forum for determining the matter of disclosure or publication of its Reasons for Decision except in the context of the limited powers of the Board to limit publication as set out in the Criminal Code. No such request to limit publication was made. If this Board or its Administrator were to determine that its Reasons for Decision ought not to be released, in whole or in part, by reason of the application of provincial privacy legislation, such legislation provides a remedy and a forum in which to exercise that remedy, including access to the Courts, to any person seeking to contest that decision.

Victim Impact Statements

We have considered all of the victim impact statements properly submitted to the Board, as required by the Criminal Code. Since the parties were largely in agreement in terms of the recommended disposition, as discussed below, it is unnecessary for us to deal with the individual victim impact statements in detail in these reasons.

Counsel for Mr. Li objected to the acceptance of certain portions of certain statements that were filed with the Board by victims and those who classified themselves as victims. In some cases the victims included statements that went beyond the impacts that the offence had upon them. While there is no question that all of the individuals who submitted victim impact statements suffered great personal loss as a result of the commission of the index offence, counsel for Mr. Li raised the issue of whether the authors of certain of the statements met the definition of “victim” as contemplated by section 722(4) of the Criminal Code, and also the issue of whether portions of certain of the statements went beyond what may be submitted to the Board under section 672.5(14), as each of those provisions have been interpreted by the Courts.

Counsel for Mr. Li, to their credit, were most sparing with their objections, raising only their most serious concerns. In its own review of the statements the Board identified many other possible objections. Counsel provided several authorities to the Board in support of their submissions, including R. v. Gabriel, 1999 CanLII 15050 (Ont. C.A.),
R. v. Daley, 2002 CanLII 393 (N.B. Q.B.), R. v. Jackson, 2002 CanLII 41524 (Ont. C.A.) R. v. McDonough, 2006 CanLII 18369 (Ont. S.C.), R. v. Duffus, 2000 CanLII 22831 (Ont. S.C.) and R. v. Bremer, 2000 CanLII 345 (B.C.C.A.), which were of great assistance to the Board in its consideration of the issues.

Counsel for the Attorney General, Ms Deegan, argued that all of the victim impact statements ought to be accepted in their entirety. She argued, in part, that was the case because the statements had been prepared by their authors in accordance with the written guidelines provided to them by the provincial Victim Services Branch. With respect, we do not accept that position; those guidelines do not have the force of law and do not override the applicable jurisprudence that interprets the Criminal Code requirements applicable to victim impact statements.

Following its deliberations, which were conducted during a recess during the proceedings, the Board permitted the victims who wished to read in their statements to do so, but with the offending portions of those statements struck out. Carol de Delley, Nadine McLean, Alex McLean on behalf of Andrew McLean, Brenda Lewis and counsel on behalf of Bruce Martin read in the victim impact statements, in their redacted form.

The remaining victim impact statements were taken as filed, subject to the objections referred to above.

It is unfortunate indeed that individuals who see themselves and are seen by many as victims, (in the sense of their having suffered loss as a result of the commission of the index offence), and who have taken the time to write their earnest and heartfelt statements with the intention of reading those statements at the hearing, can find themselves in the position of having the admissibility and appropriateness of their statements challenged at the hearing, sometimes without advance warning. This can only exacerbate feelings of victimization. This might be avoided if the victims were given some additional assistance in the preparation of their statements.

We strongly urge the Victim Services Branch to review all statements with their authors to ensure, so far as is reasonable, that the statements meet the statutory criteria for victim impact statements. This review should take place before the statements are filed with the Board. At the very least, the persons who submit statements should be made aware of the possibility that there may be objections to the contents of or admissibility of their statements if those statements are alleged to go beyond what is permitted under the Criminal Code.

The Main Issue

We now direct our attention to the main issue before us. It was common ground that Mr. Li does indeed represent a significant risk to the safety of the public, and that he must be detained in custody in a secure ward of a mental hospital. Dr. Yaren presented his opinion verbally to the Board, and we have also considered the reports of Dr. Rootenberg, Dr. Robertson, and the several progress reports of Dr. Yaren prepared following Mr. Li’s incarceration. It is clear that Mr. Li suffers from Schizophrenia and continues to show some of the negative symptoms of the disease. The active psychotic symptoms have pretty well dissipated over the approximately 12 weeks that he has spent in hospital.

The issue that we must address is whether Mr. Li represents as a significant risk to the safety of the public at this time, and whether he is likely to do so in the foreseeable future. Dr. Yaren testified that the psychotic symptoms exhibited by Mr. Li are a definite risk factor for violent behaviour. And we note that the symptoms which preceded the index offence are the very same symptoms which preceded his admission to hospital in 2005, and are similar to those reported by his wife in 2004. Dr. Yaren further testified that if violence has been an aspect of psychotic behaviour in the past, it is a factor to be taken seriously with regard to future actions by someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia was described as a lifelong disease, and is an illness characterized by emergent psychotic symptoms particularly related to non-adherence with treatment, but such episodes can occur even with adherence to treatment, and having had at least one paranoid type of episode, the likelihood of another is increased.

We agree with the opinions presented and we are in no doubt that the substantial risk factors with respect to Mr. Li’s propensity for dangerous behaviour are his major mental disorder and the psychotic symptoms he experiences when his mental condition seriously decompensates; his lack of insight into his illness and the need for treatment; his history of being non-compliant with prescribed treatment; his poor judgment; his unpredictable, threatening, impulsive and anti-social behaviour and his history of having exhibited dangerous behaviour when he has become psychotic, including actual physical harm and threats of significant violence.

We are of the opinion that without the continued, close supervision provided by detention in hospital, Mr. Li would be a significant risk to the safety of the public, and that neither an absolute discharge nor a discharge upon conditions would be appropriate.

We are of the opinion that Mr. Li should be confined to the locked ward at PsycHealth Centre or the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, and that if he is to leave the locked ward, he must be escorted by two staff members, and if it is necessary to leave the hospital, he must be escorted by two peace officers.

Finally, we would like to note in these Reasons that with the consent of all parties, an Order setting out this disposition was previously issued and came into force on the
5th day of June, 2009.

Disposition

In accordance with Section 672.54(c) of the Criminal Code of Canada,
Vince Weiguang Li is to be detained in custody in a hospital, subject to the following conditions:

1.That he reside on the locked ward at either the PsycHealth Centre,
Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba or the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Selkirk, Manitoba;

2.That if he is required to leave the locked ward within the hospital, he is to be escorted at all times by two staff members;

3.That if he is required to leave the hospital for any reason, he is to be escorted at all times by two peace officers;

4.That he present himself before the Review Board as directed by the Chairperson thereof;

5.That he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

DATED this 15th day of September 2009, at Winnipeg, Manitoba.

John Stefaniuk, Chairperson,
Manitoba Review Board

12 thoughts on “Review Board: Vincent Li to be detained in custody… For Now”

  1. Perhaps an injustice for the deceased and Mr. Li. Anti-psychotic medications were given to Mr. Li by doctors involved in treating him before and following the event. Anti-psychotic medications can trigger symptoms eg: hallucinations, paranoia, depression, psychosis, aggressive behavior, agitation, and more..etc. The question in this case should be was Mr. Li under the influence of these anti-psychotic symptoms before, at the time of the event and following the event. If so it should be the Big Pharma and doctors involved who are held responsible for the actions of Mr. Li vs Mr. Li being locked up in a Mental Health Facility for years to come. The public needs to hold Big Pharma and doctors accountable and responsible for administering dangerous drugs that can in fact change behavior patterns in a human being resulting in a triggering event that causes harm or death to another human being.

    What are your thoughts on this subject?

  2. It’s sickening, sad, and even reprehensible. ALL the people in the world that have committed atrocities in the name of GOD…were and are, doing exactly the opposite of what is expected of a person of faith.
    This world of ours is old, very, very old. And I believe that man has had many iterations of “civilization”……. but each time the chessboard has been cleared, and the world is preparing itself for another round ……. There are vestiges of other belief systems that have come long before us: Spirits, doppelgangers, demons, witches, warlocks, fairies, werewolves, vampires; and those are to name just a few, are relics of a bygone era. We’re told many things as children, and as a matter of course we believe them. But as we grow older, we shrug off stories of things that go bump in the night, after all, it’s so much easier to deny that things exist, making us feel comfortable in our ambivalence. Who knows exactly what happened to this man that caused him to commit such a heinous crime. Those thoughts could have come from his own psyche, or it could have been an external influence, say a wendigo, or a demon from the lower hells.
    Bottom line: GOD would never ask or direct an individual to kill (murder) another. I believe we will all have to give an accounting of every careless word, thought, and deed.

  3. I feel very sad for the mclean family and i ALSO feel sad for vincent Li I have a mentally challenged little brother that just went to jail 4 years ago for brutally murdering someone here in nova scotia and everyday he cries and asks if the guy is ok he doesnt full understand what he has done and yes i believe murder is wrong death penalty never. Two wrongs will never make a right and i feel that people with disabilities are failed by soceity my brother was failed our entire lives both of us in foster homes and abused so people also need to look at why people when disabilities do the things they do and how as a soceity a lot of the time they are failed. I dont believe vincent should ever be allowed out but he needs help not to be killed and not jail ………

  4. This man will eventually walk the streets.
    He is and will always be a threat to the
    public. This man is not innocent by reason
    of insanity, but rather guilty by reason
    of insanity, and should be locked away with
    no parole.

  5. further my sympathy to the Mclean family,every dog has there day,this subhuman will have his,mental illness or not?we have millions in this country with mental illness and dont do what this creature did,rcmp waiting outside while this animal did what he did,they should have been on that bus,knocking down that door,and putting 9mm glock rounds into that vermins head,but to busy outside the bus shaking with fear,im sorry but im appauled at the way this whole dam thing and how sloppy this was handled,shame on you,you guys shouldnt b security guards.as the courts and sentencing.piss poor

  6. in a hospital?he should be in a prison forever,with doctors to attend to his needs there,hes a sick twist,canadas punishment is far to easy,15 or a little more for murder,a hospital for a guy that decapitates a innocent minding his own YOUNG MAN while the us is 25,tolife and its mostly life,or what i think this twist should get is death,the Mclain family gets to suffer forever,knowing this vermin is kicking back with tv,3 squares a day,worst of all we are all paying for this maggot,and even worse the Mclain family,canada i dont know?about you sometime.li rought

  7. Li will never be able to become part of a normal society again. It is my belief that he should remain incarcerated, but whether this should be a psychiatric facility or excluded from the main prison inmates for the rest of his life, I have no answers. I do believe that he should be kept alone for a minimum of ten years in a padded cell – that alone will tell if he is mentally challenged or not.

    He should never be released. He should not be executed. Whilst he is incarcerated he should be questioned continually about his crime, by people that actually know what they are doing and not some ‘wannabe’ social workers. In the end, perhaps then people will get to know, for the first time, why he murdered Tim McLean, God rest him…..

  8. I am just as horrified today as I was 2 years ago when I heard about this. I hope that he rests in eternal peace and that Tim Law’s will be passed. As for the murderer, I can’t think of any just punishment for him. However if the family wants to put him to death, then I fully support them.

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