Mother of slain children lives in fear over father's possible escorted outings - InfoNews

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Mother of slain children lives in fear over father's possible escorted outings

November 21, 2017 - 5:28 AM

COQUITLAM, B.C. - The mother of three children who were killed by their father says she lives in constant worry for her safety following a board's decision over escorted outings for Allan Schoenborn.

Darcie Clarke said in a statement she is disappointed with last week's ruling from the B.C. Review Board to leave it up to a psychiatric hospital to decide if Schoenborn should be granted outings into the community.

"He could be in our community at any time without the public’s knowledge because the review board does not have the public’s safety as their paramount concern," she said.

A B.C. Supreme Court heard during Schoenborn's trial that he stabbed his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne and smothered his sons Max and Cordon, eight and five, at the family's home in Merritt, B.C., in April 2008 because he believed he was saving them from a life of sexual and physical abuse. He was found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

The review board first gave the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., the discretion to grant Schoenborn escorted outings in 2015 and last week's decision made no changes to his custodial conditions.

Schoenborn has never been granted an escorted outing. Defence lawyer Dante Abbey told the board the possibility of trips outside the hospital is a useful tool for Schoenborn's treatment team to motivate him in his recovery.

Crown counsel Wendy Dawson told the board the false hope of escorted outings might interfere with Schoenborn's recovery by pushing him to view his treatment team as a gatekeeper or obstacle to being granted accompanied access outside the hospital.

Dawson also asked the three-person panel to require that the hospital notify family members and police of any planned outings, but the ruling did not contain those provisions.

Review board chairman Bernd Walter said an explanation for the decision would be released within 40 days.

"The panel issued the same order that has been in place for about three years now with no changes and under which the accused has not had any community access," Walter said in an email Monday.

"We will have to await the panel's written reasons for its decision regarding the inclusion or not of any other terms."

A document provided by an agency of the provincial government responsible for mental health services says escorted outings begin with a minimum of three assessment trips within a 15-minute drive of the hospital and last up to an hour. A patient is not allowed further than an arm's length from staff except when using the washroom during those trips.

Depending on the assessment, a patient may then be considered for escorted outings with up to eight fellow patients. Two staff members for every patient are present on those outings.

Privacy legislation prevents officials from notifying the public about the hundreds of community outings that take place every year, it says.

— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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