Found NCR but he still physically committed the crime

A ruling by the Ontario Superior Court gives some hope that some sanity still exists in the Canadian judicial system. Ved Dhingra stabbed his estranged wife to death and then attempted to claim her life insurance benefits but won’t receive any payout a Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.

In June 2006, Kamlesh Dhingra was found dead in her Richmond Hill, Ontario home. She was struck on her head with a statue and stabbed multiple times in the neck and body. While a court found that Ved Dhingra killed his wife Kamlesh Dhingra, it found him not criminally responsible for the murder because he suffered from schizoaffective disorder.

Note: There are numerous debates within the mental health field whether a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder even exists!

Because the court decided he wasn’t criminally responsible, Scotia Life Insurance Company said it would pay the $50,000 policy benefit to Dhingra, who was the sole beneficiary.

The Ontario Superior Court ruled that Dhingra, who was sent to the Whitby Mental Health Centre following his trial, isn’t entitled to the insurance benefits. “(Dhingra) committed second degree murder of his ex-wife Kamlesh. Even though he was not found criminally responsible, he still physically committed the crime,” Justice Andra Pollak wrote in her ruling.

“There is no judicial support in Canada for (Dhingra’s) submission,” she continued.

Her ruling sided with Dhingra’s son Paul, who had argued that the insurance benefits should go to his mother’s estate and not to his father. Lina Dhingra, Paul’s sister has said her father would appeal Pollak’s ruling.

B.C. attorney-general requests end to annual NCR reviews

B.C.’s attorney-general Barry Penner is calling for the federal government to abolish one-year reviews for killers who are found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder (NCR). Barry Penner met Thursday with federal counterpart Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to discuss the proposal which seeks to eliminate annual reviews for killers found NCR.

The attorney-general says the request stems from a meeting earlier this year with Darcie Clarke, who says she is haunted by the fact that her ex-husband will come up for a review every year, making her re-live the nightmare of her children’s murders.

In 2008, while visiting the home of his estranged wife, Alan Schoenborn stabbed to death his daughter Kaitlynne, 10, and smothered his sons Max, 8, and Cordon, 5. He was found not criminally responsible and it caused an public outcry when months after the ruling, the BC criminal review board ruled that Schoenborn should have increased freedoms into the community.

“I suggested it should be every three years or five years, or earlier if the treating psychiatrist says there is a marked improvement,” Penner said. He urged the justice minister to consider abolishing annual reviews for “those who committed heinous acts, such as taking another person’s life or committing a serious assault.”

Penner would like to see other changes to Criminal Code Section 672, which governs those found not criminally responsible for their crimes because they were mentally ill at the time. He wants to make sure more than one psychiatrist is on the review board panel when making a decision on when to release a patient into the community, even on escorted passes.

There should be at least two psychiatrists “and maybe make it a panel of three so you don’t have a tie vote,” Penner said.

The justice minister seemed receptive to the proposed changes, Penner said.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime Urges Reform

In April Carol de Delley presented at the Federal Victims of Crime Symposium in Ottawa.  At that time, she met with the federal ombudsman for victims, Sue O’Sullivan.

The federal ombudsman for victims sent a letter to Minister Nicholson urging a number of options to reform victims rights and the subsequent responsibility of officials to victims and public safety in regards those found Not Criminally Responsible. Sue O’Sullivan provide Carol with an overview of the letter detailing their efforts :

Hi Carol,

Please see below for a brief overview of the body of the letter to Minister Nicholson on NCR.

The Government of Canada has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to victims by acting on the issue of Not Criminally Responsible.  For the Minister’s consideration in evaluating the options for reform, the two considerable gaps that victims and victim advocates have identified to our office are as follows:

1.    The importance of considering both victim and public safety in any and all release decisions related to offenders found “not criminally responsible.”
2.    The lack of rights, policies and support in place for victims whose offenders have been found not criminally responsible, especially in relation to those same rights, policies and support for victims whose offenders enter the federal corrections system.

Public Safety
The letter recommends that the Government of Canada conduct a review of section 16 of the Criminal Code of Canada with an overall goal of responding to victims’ needs and improving public safety.  This review should consider recent proposals for Criminal Code amendments made by Attorney General of British Columbia Barry Penner.

The proposals suggest that review boards, for the purposes of decision-making related to offenders’ absences and releases from psychiatric hospitals,
*    give paramount consideration to public safety;
*    ensure that at least two psychiatric opinions are obtained; and
*    ensure that an inquiry is made about the whereabouts of the victims of the offence before making any release recommendations.

Taking action to address victims’ needs

I also recommended that the Government identify and address gaps in funding and services provided to victims whose offenders are found criminally responsible versus those whose offenders are found not criminally responsible, with an overall goal of eliminating gaps. This review could consider:
*    the provision of funding for victims to attend provincial/territorial review board hearings, just as is available for victims to attend Parole Board of Canada hearings, and
*    the implementation of notifications for victims regarding the transfer, release or other status changes of the offender through the review board system, as is currently available for victims whose offenders are involved in the federal corrections system.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime/l’Ombudsman fédérale des victimes d’actes criminels
Telephone/Téléphone 613-941-3419
Facsimile/Télécopieur 613-941-3498
Goverment of Canada/Gouvernement du Canada

Shouldn’t Brian Csati doctors be liable for Karl Alkier murder?

Brian Csati who is believed to have had long-standing severe mental problems was found to be not criminally responsible for fatally stabbing Karl Alkier. Brian Csati, who was 19 at the time of the killing, stabbed Karl Alkier twice in the chest and once in the abdomen with a bread knife on Dec. 19, 2009 in Penticton.

Justice Glen Parrett of the Penticton Superior Court reviewed the facts of the case. An argument between Csati’s brother and their father on the phone escalated when the mother, Linda Csati came downstairs. Alkier, who was visiting the home, also came downstairs and the argument escalated further until the son left the house through a basement window. Justice Parrett said Brian was not involved in the argument involving his brother in any way but was present.

“Karl went up to the kitchen and the accused followed him, got out a bread knife from the drawer of the kitchen and stabbed Karl Alkier three times,” said Parrett. “The accused was quite calm and reserved. He said nothing before, during or after he stabbed Karl Alkier.” Brian then left the residence and returned shortly later, handing himself over to RCMP that were on the scene.

Brian was ordered to remain at a psychiatric treatment facility until a review board looks over medical information and testimony given in court along with the victim impact statements to decide on the disposition.

The court heard medical reports date back to at least 2007 on Brian, with psychosis raised at varying points when he was hospitalized. Brian was voluntary admitted to the hospital three times in 2008 and three times in 2009, including three weeks before the fatal stabbing. Doctors suggested the tragic death of Brian’s sister in a fire in 2004 possibly triggered his psychosis.

Doctor Shabrehram Lohrasbe stated in court that Csati had all three forms of psychosis and suffered from auditory hallucinations, paranoia, social isolation, angry outbursts, suicidal and homicidal thoughts. Doctors said Brian had delusions he was Satan or the Antichrist.

Alkier’s daughter, Diane Alkier, told the Penticton Western News Karl’s family have received great support from family and friends in Thunder Bay and Manitoba where they are from.

“We are suffering, but we are going to get through it because that is how we were raised by our father. It’s been a hard road, but we are glad there is some closure to this,” said Diane. She said it was obvious that Brian would not be held criminally responsible, but someone should be liable.

“It’s unfortunate that this young man is in the situation that he is in and we really hope that he gets the help that he needs. He should have got this help years ago when he was seeking medical attention,” said Diane.

Diane’s statement is indeed valid. When Brian Csati sought help and was diagnosed with the mental health issued described in court why did he not receive adequate treatment? In recent months there have been a number of incidents where persons found not criminally responsible for murders have sought for the review boards to grant increased privileges, and in some cases even returned to the community mere months after their court hearings. Their “doctors” have supported these motions!

The question begs to be answered. How can we deem someone found NCR for murder “cured” so quickly after the fact yet are unable to treat someone adequately when they seek help prior to committing any crime?

Shouldn’t Brian Csati doctors be liable for Karl Alkier murder?


Manitoba Mental Health Court to be Established

In a press release the Manitoba provincial government announced the formation of the Manitoba Mental Health Court. The focus of the mental-health court will be on adults with mental-health issues who are accused of less serious, non-violent crimes, says Justice Minister Andrew Swan.

Health-care Supports to Help Keep Accused from Reoffending: Swan, Oswald

The province is investing more than $600,000 to establish a special court to work with accused whose mental-health issues are the likely cause of their criminal behaviour and is expanding mental‑health services to better support these individuals, Justice Minister Andrew Swan, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and provincial court Chief Judge Ken Champagne announced today.

“By diverting people with mental illness from jails into treatment, we will reduce reoffence rates,” said Swan. “This innovative new court will help individuals with mental illness get the help they need and also help to increase the safety of our communities.”

The mental-health court will be similar to the Winnipeg drug-treatment court, an existing problem‑solving court that attempts to break the cycle of drug use, criminal behaviour and jail for drug-addicted offenders. The mental-health court will focus on adults with mental-health issues who are accused of less-serious crimes, said Swan.

“We know that there are accused persons before the court who are challenged by mental illness and that their mental illness is most often the cause for their offending behaviour,” said Champagne. “I am confident that the supports and assistance provided by a mental-health court will enable these Manitobans to get back on track with their lives and help to ensure that they do not become re‑involved in the criminal justice system in the future.”

Swan said a multi-disciplinary team, which will be operated by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will provide supports and assessment of mental-health status, development of service and treatment plans, and support and information for family members. He said development of a service/treatment plan could include:

* community support including basic needs, counselling and day programs;
* focused intensive case-management by an assertive community-treatment team (as a transition to ongoing community supports);
* addictions counselling;
* employment and educational supports;
* admission to hospital for intensive assessment and stabilization;
* community service work;
* an apology to the victim or others affected; and
* involvement of family members.

“Research tells us that prolonged contact with the justice system by people with mental illness can have negative effects that lead to repeated involvement with the law,” said Oswald. “This mental‑health court is a problem-solving court that will address the underlying problems that can contribute to criminal behaviour and will result in better outcomes including a better quality of life for individuals experiencing mental-health problems and illnesses.”

She said cross-training for those working in or with the mental-health court will include:

* education related to mental illnesses and co-occurring substance-use disorders for judges, prosecutors, defence counsel, police and corrections staff; and
* training about court and justice processes for the community mental-health team, the psychiatrist attached to the mental-health court and other related service providers.

It is anticipated the court will begin hearing cases in winter of 2011.

Annual Review of Manitoba Criminal Review Board / Vincent Li 2011

Vince Li will not be allowed passes to leave the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre for at least the next year, the Manitoba Criminal Review Board has ruled.

However, Vincent Li will be granted some extended privileges within the facility based on the “rapid progress” he is making while receiving medical care.
His treatment team recommended he be given additional freedoms, which could include escorted leaves into the community within the next 12 months.

The review board released a written decision today, citing Li’s improvements but authorizing only minimal changes to his status. The board agreed with his treatment team’s recommendation to allow for increased passes from his locked forensic unit to walk on hospital grounds. He is currently allowed one hour per day, but the review board said those may be gradually increased until they cover a full day.

The review board also agreed that supervision can be reduced at Selkirk’s discretion, from the current 3:1 ratio down to as little as a 1:1 ratio. However, they did not authorize additional calls to allow Li the possibility of participating in group outings on the grounds of Selkirk in which one staff member would supervise three patients at a time. Nor did they give the green light for any escorted passes out of the facility.

All of the conditions are binding for the next 12 months and subject to annual review.