PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. — The British Columbia man who murdered his three children nearly seven years ago still poses significant safety and escape risks, but a psychiatrist says Allan Schoenborn should be granted supervised releases into the community.
Marcel Hediger has been treating Schoenborn for three years and told an annual B.C. Review Board hearing on Thursday that man has made enough clinical progress to be considered for release on escorted leaves.
A Crown lawyer at the hearing — held at the psychiatric hospital east of Vancouver — spent several hours grilling Hediger on his rationale, but did not sway him from his recommendation.
“You still regard Mr. Schoenborn as posing a significant risk of causing physical or psychological harm, right at this point in time, despite treatment,” asked Wendy Dawson.
“I do, yes,” Hediger said, later adding “while this is a risk factor, and we do take public safety into account … I do think the risk currently is different than when he is mentally ill and taking alcohol.”
Schoenborn was at the hearing along with review board members who will make the decision on if he should be granted supervised releases.
Dawson asked Hediger, who was defending the assessment made with a team of experts, whether he could offer his opinion about the role anger played when Schoenborn killed his children.
“That has specifically been a concern and a challenge for myself,” Hediger said. “He has consistently denied that anger played a role in the index offence.”
Schoenborn stabbed his 10-year-old daughter, Kaitlynne, and smothered his sons, eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon, in their Merritt, B.C., home in April 2008. After a trial in 2009 a judge found him not criminally responsible for their deaths because of a mental disorder.
Hediger told the hearing that Schoenborn is better able to manage his anger, has insight into his mental illness and his need for treatment while recognizing that he has substance abuse problems when stressed.
The board heard Schoenborn was violently assaulted last September by another patient who called him a child killer, but there has not been any physically violent episodes since that time.
Dawson told the hearing that she counted 11 instances of verbal or physical altercations that demonstrate the man’s anger over the past year alone, more often triggered by “minor” situations. One example occurred when another patient at his facility jumped a food line, another when a patient blew his nose close to Schoenborn.
Dawson noted at least 40 instances since the man was institutionalized in April 2010 and said the Crown opposed the release, contending it would be difficult for Schoenborn to deal with strangers away from the hospital setting.
Stacy Galt, a cousin of the children’s mother who has become the family’s key advocate, told reporters outside the facility that Darcie Clarke is still petrified that if her ex-husband has any chance to leave the medium-security hospital he will go after her.
“He has anger issues. He’s been in here four years, he still has anger issues. He’s had anger issues since he was five years old,” she said.
“He got away with this murder as far as I’m concerned, he killed the children out of anger, it was a crime of passion and he should be in jail.”
She and another family-friend and spokesman, Dave Teixeira, said they were shocked when they learned that a federal bill that was passed since the last hearing required Schoenborn’s consent for his hearings to be held every three years instead of annually.
Both said they were pleased to hear the questions raised by the Crown lawyer during the hearing.
“She is actually speaking up and asking the questions that I want to ask,” Galt said.
“Now there is someone in that room fighting for us.”