Man found not criminally responsible for bus beheading gets absolute discharge
Published Friday, February 10, 2017 5:14PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 10, 2017 10:06PM EST
The man who killed and beheaded a fellow bus passenger has been granted an absolute discharge, eight years after he was found not criminally responsible for the murder.
Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, killed 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba on July 30, 2008.
Baker, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was declared not criminally responsible because of his disorder.
Manitoba's Criminal Code Review Board said Friday that Baker was no longer a “significant threat” to public safety.
“The Review Board has taken into account the safety of the public, which is the paramount consideration, the present mental condition of Mr. Baker and his reintegration into society and his other needs,” the Board wrote in its decision.
The mother of Tim McLean, Carol de Delley, had argued against Baker’s release. In a brief Facebook post she said she had no comment on the decision.
Jay Prober, a criminal lawyer who represents the McLean family, said the decision was disturbing and called it a “travesty of justice.”
“The board is supposed to look at the threat not only to physical safety but also psychological harm,” Prober told CTV News Channel. “The McLean family are members of the public and the board has ignored the rights of these victims.”
According to Prober, it is possible for the attorney general, who represented the family at the review, to have a judicial review done to try and have the review board’s decision quashed due to not properly considering the psychological threat of harm to society.
Kim Schofield, a Toronto-based criminal lawyer, said the decision is surprising because of the notoriety and severity of the case, but was made on very firm legal ground.
“There’s a history of compliance,” Schofield told CTV News Channel. “The test is that he doesn’t pose a significant threat to the public. Not that he doesn’t pose any threat, but he doesn’t pose a significant one.”
According to Schofield, the biggest concern is that it is up to Baker to continue to take the medication that has worked for the past eight years.
“He’s not court-ordered to do so anymore.” Schofield said. “We do have eight years of a track record that he has taken the medication and has done so religiously but the question is: What if he doesn’t?”
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the federal government is “committed to ensuring that our criminal justice system provides the greatest possible protection for Canadians.”
“While I can’t discuss a particular case, individuals who have been found Not Criminally Responsible are in provincial custody, and decisions regarding their release and associated conditions are made by provincial review boards,” she continued in a statement.
“It would not be appropriate for me to comment further as the matter may find itself before the courts on appeal from the Review Board’s decision.”