NEWS

Vince Li's upcoming move to group home sparks Winnipeg protest

05/09/2015 04:38 EDT | Updated 05/09/2016 05:59 EDT
About 50 people are gathered at the Manitoba Legislature today to protest increased freedoms for Vince Li, who was found not criminally responsible for the 2008 beheading death of 22-year-old Timothy McLean.

​Li, who had untreated schizophrenia at the time, stabbed, killed and ate parts of McLean's body while on a Greyhound bus full of passengers.

Li, who has been in the locked psychiatric ward of the Health Sciences Centre since February, was given permission this week to move into a group home in the city, with round-the-clock staff and a curfew.

Li could reoffend, critics say

But that hasn't gone over well with Ginny Kirk and other people in the community who believe Li will reoffend. Kirk, who met McLean while they were working at the Red River Exhibition, organized the Saturday afternoon "Justice for Tim McLean" rally at the Legislative Building that's scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

"People are telling me they're concerned he'll drop his meds again and he'll do it again," said Kirk, adding that those attending the rally would have a chance to sign petitions asking for Li's freedoms to be restricted.

But others feel confident Li poses a low risk of recidivism as long as he stays on his medication.

Chris Summerville, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, said Winnipeggers shouldn't be worried about Li moving to a group home.

"There's no way the review board would allow him in the community if there was any chance of him returning to the state of where he would do what he did on the bus," Summerville said. "And even if he did return to a state of psychosis, [that] doesn't mean he would do what he did on the bus."

The more pressing concern, Summerville said, relates to the number of people living with mental illnesses who are not getting the help they need.

Li will be monitored closely, but that isn't the case for many others with the same mental disorder, which can cause confused thinking, hallucinations and an inability to distinguish what is and isn't real.

"Three percentage of those people ... will commit crimes and maybe something as horrible as murder," said Summerville.

"We're not thinking about the future in terms of preventing these kinds of things from happening again in the general population, because we're not providing the resources and the services that people need."

Summerville said it's not likely Li will be walking the streets of Winnipeg alone. He thinks Li will want to remain as anonymous as possible in public to avoid run-ins with anyone who opposes his new freedoms or wishes him harm.

Summerville said there will be a number of services available to Li to ensure he continues to improve in his recovery program.

MORE:cbcNews