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Man's mental illness led him to kill dad and nearly end his mom's life: judge

07/06/2012 03:13 EDT | Updated 09/05/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - A young man's cold-blooded killing of his father and vicious attack on his mother is yet another sign of an ailing mental health system, said family members after a British Columbia judge declared Jordan Ramsay unfit for prison.

The 27-year-old North Vancouver man was found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder in the Nov. 5, 2011 bludgeoning death of his father and the beating that nearly ended his mother's life.

"The thing is, he's in a hospital. That's where we want him," Ramsay's uncle Kevin Hemmingson said on Friday after the B.C. Supreme Court verdict was handed down.

"Ironically, it has to come to this to get the proper help and treatment that he needs. The fact that he's out of the legal system now, I think they can treat him more aggressively."

Ramsay was in the throes of a psychotic episode on the night he committed the violence, and he did not know his actions at the time were morally reprehensible, Judge Deborah Kloegman ruled from the bench.

He was not taking his medication and was also suffering extreme anxiety from a recent move, in addition to having a lengthy history of illness. Those factors stripped away Ramsay's insight into the severity of his own condition, Kloegman said.

"(That) all proves that it is more likely than not that the accused's mind was so disordered at the time of the offence that he lacked the capacity to rationally decide whether what he was doing was right or wrong," she told the gallery of spectators who gathered for her ruling.

Ramsay has been staying at a psychiatric institution during his trial and will now go before a three-member Review Board panel, which will determine the conditions of his sentence.

"It's quite clear he'll be detained in hospital. I hate to say it's a fait accompli ... But that would be very normal in these circumstances," Ramsay's lawyer Dan Sudeyko said outside court. "It's not a free ticket out of jail by any stretch."

Police entered the family's North Vancouver home after receiving a 911 call from a neighbour last fall. They found Ramsay holding a long metal wrench that was covered in blood.

An officer struggled with the man after he refused to drop the weapon, using pepper spray and a stun gun in the process.

Entering a bedroom, the officer found Ramsay's father dead in his bed and his wife soaked in blood on the floor, head in her hands.

The accused was rushed to hospital after the killing and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He told doctors he believed he was possessed by demons.

Those facts were laid out in admissions during Ramsay's judge-alone trial. His defence hung its case around a psychiatrist's expert opinion, who charted the man's mental history back to 2000 and interviewed him on more than 40 occasions.

Ramsay was first diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 18.

Sudeyko said the tragedy was, in part, a failure of the health-care system.

"If there were more resources, there would be more contact in the community to make sure that people who are out there who need medications are in fact taking them," he said. "It's all about resources, ... and whether our government has put enough money into it."

Leeann Ramsay, the sister of the slain man, called the incident a "totally preventable death."

She pinned blame on the system for not providing better care and supervision to her nephew, who she said had been off his prescribed anti-psychotic medication for at least a few weeks.

Ramsay's mother had encouraged him to take a regimen of certain vitamins that were touted to help stabilize mental illness. It's not clear if that's why he was not taking his usual pills.

"I think my brother would be alive today. I think Jordan would be under the right medication and wouldn't have killed anyone," she said, arguing the vitamin company should be investigated by Health Canada. "I just want someone to be accountable for this."

Ramsey's mother is now blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and still recovering from nerve damage. There is a "No contact" order preventing Ramsay from talking to his family.

Leeann Ramsay also characterized the health-care system as severely lacking.

"(Ramsay's parents) struggled with this disease with their son for 17 years, they didn't get much help," she said. "So in desperation I suppose they wanted to try this as a last resort."

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