Selina Robinson, the MLA for Coquitlam Maillardville, has hailed the decision to allow B.C. Crown lawyers to proceed with legal arguments aimed at locking up Allan Shoenborn indefinitely, as a ‘high-risk accused’ as a “tremendous relief in my community.”
“At the end of the day it’s public safety that’s most critical,” said Robinson. “It’s my understanding that the judge actually spoke to that, when there’s a risk to public safety we need to be very careful when people are released back into the community. I think this ruling was very clear that public safety was at risk and the decision to allow the courts to proceed in (seeking to have him) declared as a ‘high-risk accused’ is the right direction, and I know that the residents of the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody) all have a sigh of relief around that.”
The decision rendered this week by Madame Justice Martha Devlin found that provisions in Bill C-14, the federal legislation that came into force in July 2014, can and should apply retrospectively to Schoenborn as well as others in the system who have been declared not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder (NCRMD).
“I find that the language of the statute clearly establishes that the ‘high-risk accused’ provision has immediate application to all NCR accused in the system,” This comes as a result of a challenge to the decision by the BC Review Board, in May, which approved Shoenborn for escorted leave.
In September Crown counsel filed an application to have Shoenborn declared a’high-risk accused’ despite seeking the designation retrospectively. The court’s ruling allowed that “It would make little sense for Parliament to create the ‘high-risk accused’ scheme and only have it apply to NCR accused who received NCRMD verdicts after the enactment, when there could be potentially dangerous NCR accused warranting such a designation within the system now” and that “Retrospective application is the only interpretation that makes sense.”
The decision will allow lawyers to go to a hearing in April of 2016 to argue whether the law (Bill C-14) violates Shoenborn’s Charter rights. If it is found that it does not, Crown can then proceed to a hearing in May 2016 to argue for his designation as a ‘high-risk accused’.