POLITICS

Mother of man accused in fatal beating of Halifax gay activist speaks out

09/20/2012 12:42 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - The mother of a man accused in the fatal beating of a prominent activist in Halifax's gay community said her son should not have been granted a temporary leave from a local psychiatric hospital on the night of the alleged slaying.

Janice Paul clutched a framed photo of 33-year-old Andre Noel Denny, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Raymond Taavel, following her son's brief appearance Thursday in Halifax provincial court.

"He should not have been allowed out just that night even," Paul said outside court as other loved ones stood nearby.

"He was not well. The only time I (saw) him well was three days after the alleged incident."

Paul said she believes her son is innocent, but she didn't elaborate.

"We love him, we want him home, and I will not stop at getting justice for my son," Paul said through tears.

The court extended a psychiatric assessment of Denny until Nov. 26 after Toronto-based psychiatrist Hy Bloom said he needed more time, defence lawyer Don Murray said.

Paul told Denny she loved him as he was escorted out of the courtroom and remanded to the East Coast Forensic Hospital.

Denny's assessment has been extended several times over the past four months and the Public Prosecution Service had said last month that it expected the assessment to be complete by Thursday. Murray said he did not know why it is taking so long.

"Maybe it's because (Hy Bloom) is from away, maybe he has a lot of other work to do, but we'll find out," Murray said as he was leaving the courtroom.

Dates were also set for a three-day preliminary inquiry beginning Feb. 19.

Denny, diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, was released by the East Coast Forensic Hospital on an unsupervised one-hour pass on April 16, but he didn't return.

About five hours later, the 49-year-old Taavel was found badly beaten outside a downtown bar after he tried to break up a fight between two men. He died at the scene.

The Nova Scotia government promised earlier this week to act on a review that found "significant gaps'' in controls placed on patients who are given temporary leave from the East Coast Forensic Hospital.

The government said Tuesday that future decisions to give patients temporary releases will consider the risks based on a set of explicit criteria.

The report also said the public should be informed of potential risks when a patient is reported missing and it suggests exploring the possibility of using cellphones and pagers to monitor patients on leave.

The review was done by the deputy ministers of Health and Wellness and Justice, and the CEO of the Capital District Health Authority.