KAMLOOPS — The British Columbia Review Board is questioning legislation that grants victims the right to learn where their attackers are living after a Kamloops man requested the mentally ill person who shot him in the face be moved.
Last December, a Kamloops Supreme Court Justice found Erik Konrad William Nelson not guilty of several crimes, including attempted murder because of a mental disorder, specifically a state of bipolar mania.
Nelson, who has no criminal record, went to the victim’s Spences Bridge house in May 2013 and shot at his Mercedes Benz with a shotgun. The accused yelled “you better keep your... head down” to the victim before shooting him in the face with birdshot. The victim suffered multiple injuries to his face, chest and neck. He also lost several teeth.
The victim’s name was not released by the review board. He was only identified by the initials D.E.
According to the board, Nelson’s ‘bizarre crime-spree’ was a result of a bipolar-related manic episode the accused experiences every ten years or so.
“Since returning to Kamloops, Mr. Nelson has secured employment at a ranch. He has been seen by the treatment team on at least four occasions. He has shown no evidence of any symptoms of mental disorder or of instability. He is considered insightful, pro-social, intelligent and of sound judgment,” the report says.
Nelson is seen by a treatment team every two weeks either at work, home or in the community to monitor if symptoms emerge. He is not on medication as his doctor says it wouldn’t be appropriate to treat symptoms that might not emerge for the next decade and says Nelson is at a low risk to reoffend. Dr. George Wiehahn also told the board Kamloops was one of the best places for his patient to receive treatment as a smaller community would make it difficult for visits with a case manager.
The victim of the attack said when he found out Nelson was also living in Kamloops, the victim says he endured stomach pains, a loss of appetite, intense fear and insomnia, the report says. Under Conservative Department of Justice legislation in 2014, victims are now able to find out the location of their offenders, including in cases of mental illness.
D.E. told the hearing on July 25 that the attack occurred on the day of his retirement from CN rail. He said he was not notified of Nelson's trial date and learned the verdict result later on.
D.E. said because of post-traumatic stress he lost 20 pounds and became bedridden when he found out Nelson was living in Kamloops.
“D.E. said that he knows where Mr. Nelson lives and that his peers have been offering to go and 'tune Mr. Nelson up'; that they see him every day; that 'somebody’s going to go out there and do something to him and I’m going to get blamed; and it’s nothing I can do.’” the report says.
The tribunal also noted D.E.’s mention of previous planned attacks on Nelson.
“Well guess what? He’s already missed at least one vicious attack. One of my friends told me he was driving by and he got stopped because he got his wife and his children in the car with him but he was going to get out and thump the guy,” the report quotes D.E. “So it’s going to happen. And I don’t want it to happen. You know it’s nothing I’m planning on happening and I’m trying to dissuade it but I know a lot, a lot of people and they don’t like this. And I can’t control the city. He’s in danger."
The victim said he feels peer pressure to assault Nelson, while his attacker says he doesn’t recall what D.E. looks like and is remorseful for the harm he caused.
Crown counsel Michael Wong suggested Nelson move to Strathmore, Alberta while Micah Rankin for the defence said Nelson does not put the public at risk.
The board declined moving Nelson, but recommended his relocation be considered seriously by the director of Nelson's treatment.
"Finally, we would observe that the circumstances of this case raise serious questions about the wisdom underlying (legislation on releasing offender's addresses to victims) and its potential implications for a broad and inclusive notion of public safety," the report says.
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