Vernon man charged with murder loses appeal over psychiatric detention report | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon man charged with murder loses appeal over psychiatric detention report

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A Vernon man who was deemed unfit to stand trial after being charged with the second-degree murder of a 50-year-old Vernon man, has lost an appeal to keep his psychiatric detention report private.

According to an Oct. 27 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Richard William Fairgrieve had argued his B.C. Review Board disposition should not be made public so as not to impact his right to a fair trial – if he's capable of standing trial in the future.

The case came about because Global News launched a legal challenge arguing the psychiatric detention report should be made public.

Fairgrieve made headlines in 2018 when he was arrested and charged with the murder of 50-year-old Willy Bartz which had taken place 18 months earlier.

But while awaiting trial in early 2020 Fairgrieve was declared unfit to stand trial.

At a court appearance, his lawyer had said Fairgrieve suffered a stroke and had an "organic brain injury."

Fairgrieve was then transferred to a psychiatric institute.

In B.C. if a person is deemed unfit to stand trial, or receives a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, they are ordinarily detained in a psychiatric institute and put under the authority of the B.C. Review Board.

The B.C. Review Board holds a hearing at least once a year to evaluate a person's psychiatric state and produces a detention report known as a disposition. These dispositions are public information, in the same way court records are.

Global News and then requested these records.

However, because aspects of Fairgrieve's court proceedings were put under a publication ban, the B.C. Review Board refused to hand over the documents.

In July 2020 made several request to the B.C. Review Board for the disposition, but was told that it was deciding what effect the publication ban had, and refused to turn over the document.

However, according to the decision, the B.C. Review Board later decided Fairgrieve's disposition should be made public.

Fairgrieve's lawyer then applied to block the public's access to the disposition.

Global News pursued the case through the courts in an attempt to have the records made public.

The decision goes into lengthy legal details about whether the B.C. Review Board has jurisdiction to keep records sealed from the public.

Ultimately, after long and complex legal arguments, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Riley sided with the B.C. Review Board's decision that the records be made public.

The Justice said the records will be made public in 14 days.

Separately, the co-accused in the case Jacqueline Nicole Leavins was sentenced to 10 years of prison time in 2021.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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