Turcotte's release highlights need to tighten rules: Moore
Published Thursday, December 13, 2012 2:49PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2012 10:00PM EST
A Quebec doctor’s release from a mental institution 46 months after he fatally stabbed his two children gives “short shrift” to the victims, says Heritage Minister James Moore, the government spokesperson on the issue.
The Conservatives already have plans to tighten the rules on releasing those found not criminally responsible for serious crimes, and say the Turcotte case shows the need for action.
Guy Turcotte was convicted in the 2009 stabbing deaths of his three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, but found not criminally responsible.
On Wednesday, a three-member panel unanimously approved his release from Montreal’s Pinel Institute, after concluding that Turcotte has made progress under psychiatric care and does not pose an immediate danger to society.
But Turcotte’s ex-wife, Isabelle Gaston, and other family members were furious, saying they now fear for their safety.
Gaston urged Canadians to “write to the prime minister” and ask the government to take a closer look at the current laws.
Moore told CTV’s Power Play Thursday that the Turcotte case “is sort of the worst of the worst -- people who take children’s lives.”
“I know that he’s been found criminally not responsible, but…the public says: ‘There’s something wrong with the system here,’” Moore said.
“Not only is he now available for release…but worse than that is that his ex-wife and the victims’ family and community safety has been, frankly, given the short shrift by the system. And that needs to change.”
He said the law needs to emphasize victims’ rights, and it’s high-profile cases like Turcotte’s that “expose flaws in the justice system.”
"Isabelle Gaston does not deserve to live in fear of her children's killer and neither do other victims of similar crimes across Canada," Moore told a news conference earlier Thursday.
"Isabelle Gaston deserves better than this. The system has failed her."
The planned legislation may require longer waits between formal reviews of the status of people held in psychiatric hospitals after they are found not criminally responsible for an offence, Moore suggested.
At his release hearing Wednesday, Turcotte said he wants to lead a productive life.
"I'd like to work, to do some good around me," he told the panel.
"My biggest challenge will be dealing with others, with the public. There's been a lot of badmouthing, a lot of things that will be said. There will be a lot of prejudice against me."
The Crown has said it will appeal the Turcotte ruling. In the meantime, Turcotte must abide by the conditions of his release, which include staying away from his ex-wife and her family.
With a report from CTV’s Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin and files from The Canadian Press