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Behaviour of mentally ill dad who killed kids doesn't stick out: psych nurse

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn is shown in an undated RCMP handout photo.
Image Credit: RCMP handout
June 08, 2016 - 8:30 AM

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - A mentally ill British Columbia man who killed his three children behaves in similar ways to other patients in a Port Coquitlam, B.C., psychiatric hospital, a court heard as Crown lawyers seek harsher rules around his confinement.

Reports on Allan Schoenborn's day-to-day behaviour from a nurse who works closely with him contrast with the case prosecutors are building for a stricter designation they're seeking under the Criminal Code.

The Crown wants Schoenborn labelled a "high-risk accused," but his lawyers contend he is being singled out under legislation fashioned as part of the former Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda.

Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder for stabbing his 10-year-old daughter, and smothering his five- and eight-year-olds sons at their Merritt, B.C., mobile home in April 2008.

A series of reports compiled by Leanne Lee, the psychiatric nurse who manages Schoenborn's case, were admitted as evidence Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court. They described the man's progress since entering the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in early 2010.

Over the past year, Schoenborn's behaviour has been "calm and settled, but he has also presented with periods of irritability and agitation," Lee said in a report.

The man has taken his medications and refrained from using alcohol or drugs. However, he ended anger management therapy in April, "stating the sessions were too often and too intense."

The Crown previously told the court Schoenborn has acted aggressively at least 85 times since he was admitted, including four episodes of physical aggression against other patients and staff. For instance, he called a nurse "stupid" after swearing at another patient who slapped him and changed the TV channel away from a basketball game.

Asked by one of Schoenborn's lawyers whether there was anything notable about his behaviour in relation to other patients, Lee said nothing stood out.

"I would prefer he was more motivated for programs and treatment, but I would expect where he is at," she said, adding staff enjoy working with him.

Lee said there have been some incidents of verbal and physical aggression, but the worst was prompted by another patient who has been targeting Schoenborn and who will likely be removed from his ward.

"He's been assaulted more than he has assaulted other people," she said.

Schoenborn's notoriety mainly exists outside the hospital, Lee added.

"(He) doesn't take up any more of my time than any other patient on my caseload," she said.

Lee agreed with Schoenborn's lawyer, Rishi Gill, that her reports are positive and broadly show he is making decent progress.

She said he has never been recommended for escorted leaves of absence into the community, although last year an independent panel granted him the right to ask.

His treatment team will not recommend that privilege this year, court has previously heard.

Tuesday's hearing was part of a lengthy application by Crown that is rehashing much of the evidence from Schoenborn's original trial.

Lawyers for B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch argue he has a decades-long history of violence. They contend that merits the "high-risk accused" label, which could stop almost all hospital absences and extend annual review hearings from one to every three years.

The label could only be reversed by a new court order.

If successful, Schoenborn would be the most high-profile person to be placed under the new restrictions. His lawyers are gearing up to argue the label is unconstitutional.

An annual hearing to directly review his case has been postponed until late July.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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