12/28/2011 02:46 EST | Updated 02/27/2012 05:12 EST

Ottawa man charged with killing wife at seniors' home

An 82-year-old Ottawa man has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of his wife at a seniors' home in suburban Barrhaven.

Ian Flann is charged with killing Doreen Flann, also 82, on Monday.

Flann was wheeled into a hospital room on Wednesday to hear himself being formally charged with first-degree murder over the phone. He was remanded in custody.

Bruce Di Labio told CBC News that he has known Flann for three decades and they shared an interest in birdwatching. Di Labio said he couldn’t reconcile the charges with the man he knew.

"He was a very easy going guy," Di Labio said. "Drove with him several times — nice conversations, genuine nice individual."

On Wiseman Crescent where the Flanns lived for more than 50 years, the neighbourhood is in shock. Ian, a retired forester, planted many of the trees on the street and he and Doreen were high school sweethearts, reports the CBC's Judy Trinh.

Ian was often seen shuttling his wife back and forth between doctors' appointments over the years and neighbours said Ian's health had recently deteriorated.

Stephanie St. Pierre last saw Ian right before he moved out.

"I could see him from my yard [and] I thought I was going to have to run over and give him CPR because he was very stooped over," St. Pierre said.

"I thought he was going to fall over picking the weeds out of his yard."

Doreen Flann suffered from dementia

After complications from surgery Doreen Flann was moved into the Longfields Manor Retirement Home. Friends said Ian visited often, but the visits were tense because his wife was suffering from dementia and often couldn't recognize him.

Investigators are still gathering evidence from the Stittsville retirement home where Ian lived most recently. Di Labio said he believes they'll find signs of a man suffering from a mental break.

"When I heard this, I thought it's got to be mercy killing. It isn't in his character."

On Friday, Flann's lawyer will argue for a 60-day psychiatric assessment to see if his client is fit to stand trial. Flann remains in hospital under police watch.

Police said they responded to a 911 call from staff at Longfields Manor, 330 Beatrice Dr., on Monday morning. Officers found the Flanns injured, Doreen fatally. Ian was taken to hospital.

Police aren't commenting on reports the victim of Ottawa's 11th homicide of 2011 died of stab wounds.