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