B.C. man who killed his kids doesn’t fit high-risk test: lawyer

Rishi Gill said his client may be ‘a jerk,’ but the high-risk accused label doesn’t fit

A man found not responsible for killing his three children is being properly managed, his psychosis is under control and he doesn’t fit the definition of a high-risk accused, his lawyer said Thursday.

Rishi Gill told a British Columbia Supreme Court judge that Allan Schoenborn, 49, is being properly managed in a psychiatric facility and he doesn’t fit the definition of high risk, despite significant anger-management issues.

“There is nothing in the anger situation that takes him out of the regular stream. It’s the psychosis risk that puts him into the high-risk. And that psychosis is under control,” Gill said.

“What happens when his behaviour deteriorates, even under mental-health criteria? He is managed properly within that scheme.”

Schoenborn was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 for killing his daughter and two sons, but found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder. His case gained notoriety again when former prime minister Stephen Harper singled him out when he introduced a law creating the high-risk designation for mentally ill offenders.

RELATED: Review underway for mentally ill Merritt man

The Crown has asked the court to designate Schoenborn a high-risk accused, which would bar him from receiving escorted outings into the community and extend the time between his review board hearings from one to three years.

Gill said his client may be “a jerk,” but the high-risk accused label doesn’t fit his client.

“He is just a disagreeable personality who has a lot of problems with conflict management. Nobody is saying otherwise,” Gill said. “What we’re saying is, does he get to that next level?”

Crown attorney Wendy Dawson told the court Thursday that Schoenborn appears resistant to change.

RELATED: Schoenborn too much of a threat for escorted outings, Crown says

“It truly appears an intractable condition.”

Gill dismissed the argument as a theory of the Crown, saying Schoenborn’s mental illness is what leads to his dangerous behaviour, but he willingly takes his antipsychotic medication, despite the occasional adverse side effect.

Schoenborn killed his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne and sons, Max and Cordon, aged eight and five, in the family’s home in Merritt in April 2008.

The murder trial heard that Schoenborn was experiencing psychosis at the time of the killings and thought he was saving his children from sexual and physical abuse, though no evidence suggested this was the case.

Gill said he does not dispute the “brutal nature” of his client’s offences.

Schoenborn has been at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., since being found not criminally responsible.

Two years ago the B.C. Review Board gave the director of the facility the authority to grant Schoenborn supervised outings as part of his treatment, though so far none has been granted.

Arguments into whether Schoenborn meets the criteria of a high-risk accused person are expected to wrap up by the end of the week and proceedings on the constitutionality of the legislation are scheduled to begin June 26.

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

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