POLITICS

List of prominent not criminally responsible cases

04/19/2013 10:15 EDT | Updated 06/19/2013 05:12 EDT
When someone is found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, it can generate a lot of controversy. On average, about seven per cent of NCR cases are homicides, according to a government-commissioned study. But they are the cases that are often the most horrific and garner the most notoriety. For someone to be found NCR of a crime it is not enough that they are mentally ill, but their mental disorder had to have prevented them from appreciating the nature or quality of their acts and that they were wrong. For all those found NCR there are others who advance the defence at their trials, but are nonetheless convicted after a judge or jury finds they knew what they were doing.

Following is a list of high-profile NCR cases:

VINCENT LI

Li was sitting next to a sleeping Tim McLean aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba on July 30, 2008 when he suddenly started stabbing the young carnival worker. As the bus stopped and horrified passengers fled, Li cut up McLean's body and ate parts of it. Li told a mental-health advocate he heard the voice of God telling him McLean was an alien who he needed to destroy. Li was found not criminally responsible and was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Last year he was granted the privilege of escorted trips off the hospital grounds.

ALLAN SCHOENBORN

In April 2008, Darcie Clarke returned to her home in Merritt, B.C., to find her two sons and daughter dead. Schoenborn, her ex-husband, had killed their children: 10-year-old Kaitlynne, eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon. He was diagnosed with delusional disorder and said he killed the children to protect them from an imagined threat of sexual abuse. Since he was found not criminally responsible, Schoenborn has been held in a psychiatric hospital in British Columbia. He has asked for a transfer to a hospital in Manitoba to be closer to his family.

GUY TURCOTTE

Turcotte, a cardiologist in Quebec, stabbed his two young children 46 times in 2009. He said he didn't remember doing it, hadn't wanted to do it and had been experiencing blackouts on the night of the killings. He was found not criminally responsible at his trial in 2011 for killing his three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Montreal and released in December 2012. The Crown is appealing his NCR verdict and the case will be heard this fall.

RICHARD KACHKAR

Kachkar stole a snow plow in the early morning of Jan. 12, 2011 and in the middle of a two-hour rampage with it he hit and killed Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell. Various witnesses heard him yell about the Taliban, Chinese technology and microchips. Psychiatrists concluded he was psychotic, but struggled with an exact diagnosis. He was found not criminally responsible and a hearing will be held April 26 to determine where he will go and any conditions he will be under.

GREGORY DESPRES

Despres killed his elderly neighbours in Minto, N.B., in 2005. He repeatedly stabbed Fred Fulton, 74, and Verna Decarie, 70, and decapitated Fulton. He was arrested in Massachusetts shortly after the bodies were discovered. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Despres had crossed the border the day before despite border guards finding him carrying a small arsenal including a chainsaw, a sword and brass knuckles. He told them he was an assassin on a military mission. Three psychiatrists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He was found not criminally responsible in 2008. He is detained in a psychiatric facility inside the Dorchester Penitentiary.

MILOSLAV KAPSIK

The Winnipeg man bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer, hitting her more than 100 times while they were watching a hockey game in 2010. Court was told he had been hearing voices. Medical records showed Kapsik was first diagnosed with severe depression in 2003. The defence argued he had a mental illness at the time and wasn't criminally responsible, but Kapsik was convicted in March of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 10 years.

ELAINE CAMPIONE

The Barrie, Ont., woman drowned her daughters, Serena, 3, and Sophia, 19 months, in the bathtub in 2006 days before a family court hearing in the midst of a custody battle with her ex-husband. Court heard doctors had diagnosed her as having unspecified psychosis with borderline personality traits, post-traumatic stress disorder from spousal abuse, depression and an eating disorder. She had spent time in psychiatric wards, attempted suicide and had delusions that people were trying to kill her and steal the girls. Her lawyer urged the jury to find her not criminally responsible, but the Crown successfully argued her mental illness didn't prevent her from knowing right from wrong. Campione was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

FRANCIS PROULX

Proulx entered the home of Nancy Michaud, an aide to a Quebec cabinet minister, in 2008 and took her hostage while her two children slept. He took credit cards and banking information and shot her in the head. Proulx then had sex with her corpse. During his trial, he argued he was not criminally responsible because of a mental issue, saying he was on medication at the time of the crime. But he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal.

ANDRE DENNY

Denny was detained in Halifax at a secure hospital in early 2012 after a court ruled he was not criminally responsible on a charge of assault causing bodily harm. Diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a teenager, records show Denny was agitated, argumentative and paranoid in hospital after the court verdict. With an adjustment of his medication, his condition improved and he was granted supervised outings in early February 2012. Several weeks later, he was granted a one-hour pass but failed to return to the hospital. He is now charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of a gay activist. Raymond Taavel was killed after he tried to break up a fight between two men outside a bar.