CALGARY — A Calgary man found not criminally responsible for the stabbing deaths of five young people four years ago told a review board he is sorry for what he's done and will do everything he can to make amends.
Matthew de Grood told the Alberta Review Board he wishes the "terrible tragedy" had never happened.
"It grieves me knowing the pain, fear and agony I've caused. I've done a terrible wrong," de Grood told a hearing Friday. "I desperately wish it had never happened. I take relapse prevention seriously. I will do everything in my power to make amends."
The review board's annual hearing is to get an update on de Grood's progress and determine if he should be granted more freedom at the Calgary hospital where he is housed.
De Grood told the board he suffers from survivor's guilt, "that I'm still around and others are not."
"I am truly sorry for what I've done. I pray someday that those who are suffering will find peace."
Hong's 27-year-old son Lawrence died after being stabbed four times while he lay sleeping in April 2014. She wept as she and her husband Lorencio told the hearing they can't move on.
"His life was cut short by Matthew de Grood," Marlene Hong said. "My loss is so unbearable and my heart aches every day."
A report sent to them from the medical examiner was left unopened for a week. Marlene Hong "broke down on just page one," her husband said.
"The hurt has permeated into the everyday fabric of our life. We are broken and irreparable."
Kelly Hunter, whose 23-year-old son Josh was also killed, was furious at the prospect that de Grood could one day be released.
"I will never forgive him for what he took from me and my family."
Family members of the victims released a statement afterward saying that the system is broken and doesn't give enough weight to the gravity of the offence.
Some of them jeered at the hearing as de Grood's psychiatrist testified he is a model patient who is committed to his treatment.
Dr. Sergio Santana told the review board de Grood has developed insight into his illness and is trying to do the right thing.
"He's not just there going through the motions," Santana said. "He's doing everything he can."
The treatment team believes de Grood, who is now 27, will need to stay in the secure hospital for some time but recommends that he be allowed supervised visits to malls for up to four hours and for escorted passes to go out for various courses.
It's possible de Grood could be released back into the community eventually, Santana said. His schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder is in full remission, but there is an increased risk of violence if he slips back into a psychotic state, Santana said.
"His progress is good. Eventually there will be a time when reintegration will be possible."
De Grood told treatment staff and his family that he was having flashbacks around the anniversary of the attacks.
De Grood was upset last November when another doctor refused to treat him because he didn't want to draw unwanted attention to his clinic, Santana said. De Grood realizes that the notoriety of his actions will be with him for a long time, he said.
"That was a reality check in a way."
De Grood was granted more privileges following the review in April 2017, including being allowed to go for supervised walks on hospital grounds as well as being allowed trips for medical appointments and treatment.
Laura Marr, who appeared at the hearing on behalf of the Crown, said she thinks de Grood should be transferred to Alberta Hospital Edmonton.
"Away from this community which is still grieving a profound loss from these offences...the loss of children, of brothers and sisters, grandchildren, nephews and nieces," Marr said.
"The grief in this room is palpable and it resonates beyond this room...and it is expressed as anger. It is expressed as outrage."
De Grood was suffering from a mental disorder when he attacked and killed Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Hunter and Hong in April 2014.
The judge ruled de Grood didn't understand his actions were wrong. He is on medication for schizophrenia and his symptoms had been in "full remission" since July 2014.
De Grood has said he heard what he thought was the voice of the devil before the attack and told a psychiatrist that he believed a war was about to begin, signalling the end of the world, when he arrived at the party.
The review board is expected to release its decision in a couple of weeks.
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