The Criminal Code Review Board has ruled that Vince Li can go on more escorted day trips from the Selkirk Mental Health Centre where he is in custody.
Li was already allowed short escorted visits into the nearby community of Selkirk, but soon will be able to make supervised, full-day trips farther afield to Lockport and Winnipeg and nearby beaches.
The board also says Li can be unescorted on the grounds of the mental hospital starting at 15 minutes at a time and working up to full days.
The ruling from the review board says that the expanded privileges, which are to begin next Friday, can continue under the condition that Li "comply with all directions of and continue to take medication prescribed by his treating psychiatrist or designate."
Li's psychiatrist told the review board at a hearing last week that the 45-year-old Li hasn't had hallucinations in more than a year and is a low risk to reoffend. Li's status is reviewed annually by the board.
He was an undiagnosed schizophrenic when he stabbed and beheaded Tim McLean and ate parts of his body in July 2008.
Dr. Steven Kremer said his patient has made "excellent improvement'' since the attack. Kremer said Li takes his medication, has had no problems with staff or other patients and realizes he needs to stick to his treatment.
Li was initially confined to a locked wing of the hospital, but in 2010 was granted the right to escorted walks on hospital grounds. Last year, he was given the right to escorted day trips into Selkirk. He had to be accompanied at all times by a security guard and a staff member.
The Crown did not oppose the proposal's main points at last week's hearing, but asked that staff accompanying Li be required to have cellphones at all times. The review board agreed.
Carol DeDelley, McLean's mother, has repeatedly said Li should remain locked up for the rest of his life.
"I just believe that (Li) ought to remain where he can get the care and treatment he requires and we can all feel safe,'' DeDelley said after the hearing.
Li's attack on McLean was unprovoked. The two men were strangers when Li sat down next to the 22-year-old carnival worker who was riding a bus to Winnipeg from Edmonton. McLean had his eyes closed and was listening to music on his headphones when Li suddenly stood up and started stabbing him.
The bus stopped and horrified passengers fled as Li carved up McLean's body.
A Manitoba MP said granting increased access to Li is "an insult" to McLean's family.
James Bezan, who represents the riding of Selkirk-Interlake, said in a news release that Canadians expect that their justice system will keep them safe from high-risk individuals.
"That is why our Conservative government has introduced Bill C-54 ... It is paramount that victims’ rights and public safety are balanced off with the decisions taken for high-risk patients who are accused of being not criminally responsible for their actions."
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