Allan Schoenborn, the man who slaughtered his three young children in their Merritt home in 2008, has yet to take an escorted trip outside of his psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam because he has been unable to handle his anger, a panel heard Wednesday.
Psychiatrist Dr. Marcel Hediger told the B.C. Review Board at an annual review of Schoenborn’s custody conditions that the man who was found in 2010 not criminally responsible for the killings because of mental illness has been “slow” to respond to treatment for problems such as substance abuse and anger management.
Schoenborn was granted permission in 2015 to take short trips into the community supervised by two hospital staff, but has yet to actually take one.
Hediger said he has yet to actually initiate the process to evaluate whether Schoenborn is suitable for a trip when he requests one because the man is still unable to cope with his emotions.
He said Schoenborn has denied that anger played a role in his children’s deaths and has resisted the treatment plan, despite efforts to encourage him to participate. In total, he has participated in almost three years of treatment, on-and-off since 2010.
When Crown counsel asked how long it would take to change someone’s personality through treatment, Hediger said Schoenborn would need anger management treatment for months to years into the future.
Schoenborn has had multiple incidents with co-patients, Hediger said, adding that altercations involved mostly verbal and physical aggression towards objects.
In 2011, Schoenborn was assaulted by another patient and has since been moved to a different wing of the hospital. There, he participates in a peer program and illness management program, as well as weekly meetings with the chaplain, Hediger said.
Annual reviews are a mandatory requirement for any person deemed not criminally responsible because of mental illness, until the review board approves their absolute discharge.
Schoenborn consented to forego his review last year because of a separate hearing into whether he should be designated a high-risk accused. That designation would extend the period between reviews of his custody from one year to three.
Schoenborn’s lawyers, Diane Nelson and Dante Abbey of the Community Legal Assistance Society, says he hopes to be approved for a escorted trip soon.
They said escorted leaves are very short outings in a controlled environment.
“He’s not going to be walking free. He’s always going to be with two staff members,” Nelson said.
She also argued his environment among other patients who are mentally ill could be a factor in some of his verbal outbursts.
“He’s not all that unusual, and with respect to violence and from my understanding, his last act of violence was 2014.”
Family member of victims calls Schoenborn ‘flight risk’
Outside the hospital entrance, Mike Clarke, the children’s uncle, said he hopes Schoenborn remains in custody “until he passes away,” adding that he is concerned the man could disappear if he is allowed to leave the grounds.
“I really worry about my sister’s safety,” Clarke said.