Crown, defence spar over if B.C. child killer should get escorted outings

Allan Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible for the killing of his three kids in Merritt in 2008

Allan Schoenborn. (RCMP handout)

A B.C. man who killed his three children should lose the right for escorted outings from his psychiatric hospital, a prosecutor told the B.C. Review Board Thursday.

Allan Schoenborn was convicted but found not criminally responsible for killing his three children, ages 10, eight and five, at his Merritt home in 2008.

READ MORE: Allan Schoenborn, who killed his 3 kids, deemed not high-risk

A judge ruled he was experiencing psychosis at the time. Since then, Schoenborn has resided in a medium security unit of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam’s Colony Farm Regional Park.

Schoenborn was granted the ability to apply for brief escorted outings by the three-person review board in November 2017, a ruling Crown counsel has been fighting ever since. Doctors have yet to approve an application for him to take such an outing.

“I don’t think staff supervised community outings are justified at this point,” Schoenborn’s psychiatrist Dr. Marcel Hediger, told the board at the annual hearing to review his freedom.

When questioned by prosecutor Michelle Booker, Hediger painted Schoenborn as a paranoid, impulsive man still working on controlling his anger and emotions.

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

His attitude has become more positive over the years, Hediger said, but he continues to have “negative interactions” with both patients and employees. They haven’t gotten physical, but staff have had to intervene.

The hospital’s two main concerns are that Schoenborn has trouble when he feels wronged or disrespected, and he tends to interpret “neutral” comments as negative, he said. His poor impulse control could cause issues on escorted outings.

He is “likely” to have a negative interaction with someone in public on such an outing, given his notoriety, Hediger said, adding Schoenborn has already had death threats from patients at the hospital.

“I don’t know how he would be able to handle it… it would be a very triggering situation.”

Schoenborn sat in on the eight-hour proceedings. Wearing a navy t-shirt under a blue-checkered shirt, faded blue jeans, slippers and black-rimmed glasses, the 50-year-old remained largely quiet and subdued.

Near the end of the proceedings, he was questioned by the review board. He told the board he’d made progress over the past nine years.

“I say darn it now instead of eff it,” he said. “I use to take things to heart but now I take it to my head first.”

Schoenborn’s only outburst came at the very end of the day, when Crown counsel Trevor Shaw asked for Darcie Clarke, the mother of the three murdered children, and other close family to be notified if Schoenborn had an outing.

“Really? He doesn’t know why?” Schoenborn said loudly, interrupting Shaw’s reading of his arguments for victim notification.

While cross-examining Hediger, Schoenborn’s counsel Rishi Gill proposed a hypothetical, “very controlled” scenario where Schoenborn could leave the hospital for a “500-metre walk along Barnet Highway,” just a five-minute drive away. Would that work, Gill asked Hediger?

“If there were no other individuals around [and staff present] that could be possible,” Hediger acknowledged.

Gill argued that it was Schoenborn’s psychosis that lead to the “eggregious, horrible offence” of killing his three children and that with the mental disorder under control, he does not present the same risk to the public.

READ MORE: Psychiatrist says Schoenborn’s angry outbursts have dropped in past six months

Schoenberger has, Hediger noted, shown “genuine remorse” for his actions.

Gill pointed out the point of the hospital is to eventually reintegrate patients into society, if it is possible to do so in a safe way.

“Is there some point where the patient’s resiliency must be tested?” Gill asked.

“Yes… in the hospital,” Hediger replied, noting he would like to see Schoenborn join more programs within hospital walls so doctors can better judge his interactions.

There’s not much Schoenborn will ever be able to do to change his notoriety, Hediger said, so he’s going to have to learn to deal with it.

“He’s always going to be held to a higher standard.”

The B.C. Review Board will make its decision sometime in the coming days to either take away the possibility of escorted outings, to mandate escorted outings or to keep things status quo.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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