Schizophrenia group supports more freedom for Li
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, May 15, 2012 12:07PM EDT
The head of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada says the public has nothing to worry about if the man who beheaded another man on a Greyhound bus four years ago is granted supervised visits away from a Manitoba mental health centre.
Chris Summerville, the group's CEO, says he has met with Vince Li several times and has found him to be a gentle person who has responded very well to treatment at the hospital.
"The reality is that Mr. Li is not deficient, Mr Li is not a criminal; he is a patient. And patients get better. And he is getting better," Summerville told CTV's Canada AM Tuesday.
Li, 44, has been under treatment at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre ever since he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and found not criminally responsible for stabbing, beheading and cannibalizing Tim McLean, 22, in July, 2008.
Summerville says with a combination of medication, stress management therapy, and support groups, Li has had a complete transformation.
"He is doing remarkably better. In fact, of the thousands of people who I've met with schizophrenia in the last 17 years, if everyone did as well as Mr. Li has in terms of his treatment, we would call it miraculous," Summerville said.
"In fact, it's not a miracle; it's the reality that schizophrenia is treatable."
On Monday, doctors at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre told a criminal review board that Li has made great progress and that his risk of ever re-offending are only about 1 per cent.
Tim McLean's mother, Carol de Delley, disagrees, and says she believes that Li is "a very unpredictably dangerous person."
De Delley tells CTV Winnipeg she doesn't doubt that while Li is in care in hospital, he's well managed.
"What happens when he's not in care anymore?" she wondered in an interview with CTV Winnipeg Tuesday morning.
De Delley says she was not pleased with how Li's case has been handled by the justice system.
"I think Canada needs to do better in the way we treat mentally ill killers and what we do with them. I don't think we should be treating and releasing them," she said.
"Treating them, medicating them, managing them, I think Vince Li can be managed; I don't think he can be cured."
Li's doctors called on the board to allow Li to take supervised, 30-minute trips into town. Summerville says he supports the request.
"Why should Mr. Li be allowed to walk within the city of Selkirk, Manitoba? It's because his risk factors are very low. There are eight dominant risk factors that we look for and he doesn't rate high at all on any of those risk factors," Summerville said.
Li also has complete insight into his illness as well as what happened four years ago, Summerville said.
"He has remorse. He would like to one day ask forgiveness for what did happen," he said.
He added that if Li continues to be compliant with his medication, as he has been, he might never have another psychotic episode, noting that up to 30 per cent of patients only ever have one.
The review board is set to make its decision on whether to allow the supervised passes this week.