The man accused of stabbing three people in Vancouver’s Chinatown while enjoying a day pass at a forensic psychiatric hospital was described as a “significant threat” and a “high risk of relapse” at a hearing five months ago.
Blair Evan Donnelly, 64, has been living in Coquitlam Forensic Psychiatric Hospital since he was found not criminally responsible for stabbing his teenage daughter to death in 2006.
A document from the British Columbia Review Board (BCRB) dated April 13, 2023 and published by CHEK NewsHe said Donnelly has a “pattern of rapid decompensation and violence in the past,” including two other stabbings since his incarceration began.
The BCRB has rejected CBC’s requests for documents.
On Thursday, Premier David Eby announced that former Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich will conduct an independent review of how Donnelly was allowed to leave the hospital on a day pass.
Donnelly allegedly stabbed three strangers, a couple in their 60s and a woman in her 20s, at the Light Up Chinatown festival on Sunday.
Eby says the review board report clearly concluded that the man posed a significant risk and should not be let out, but somehow, between that decision and the attack in Chinatown, he was released from the facility.
The April decision reads: “The defendant has reoffended after long periods of remission between violent episodes and without any significant warning signs… Therefore, a cautious approach is necessary to protect the public.”
The review board concluded that the hospital remains “the only appropriate placement at this time” for Donnelly.
The Prime Minister says he wants Rich to find out how Donnelly’s release was possible in light of that information, and whether there are other people in similar circumstances who could also have free day passes.
The suspect believed that God wanted him to kill his daughter.
In 2006, Donnelly was charged with second-degree murder in the gruesome stabbing death of his 16-year-old daughter. According to the review board’s decision published by CHEK News, he had planned to kill his wife, but changed his mind after believing that God wanted his daughter to die.
He was found not criminally responsible for mental disorder and was imprisoned in the forensic hospital.
The BCRB document notes two other incidents of stabbing.
In 2009, while enjoying a day pass, Donnelly took cocaine and then “suddenly” stabbed a friend. Donnelly was convicted of assault with a weapon and sentenced to 45 days in jail.
In 2017, he suddenly attacked a fellow patient with a butter knife shortly after returning from leave and was subsequently found not criminally responsible on the charge of assault with a weapon and granted free rein.
“A major concern in terms of risk assessment is that all incidents occurred without warning signs and that the two relapses occurred after long periods of remission without any indicator of decompensation,” the document says.
Defender calls for accountability
Victims’ rights advocate Dave Teixeira believes there needs to be more accountability from the British Columbia Review Board and more transparency in its decisions behind releases.
“Looking at the decision and the reasons, he has a high risk of reoffending. He’s a violent offender. He’s had numerous cases. Why are they letting him out? That’s really the question,” Teixeira said. “The review board process must be held accountable for the decision to allow Donnelly to leave.”
Teixeira is an advocate for Darcy Clarke and her family. Clarke’s three children were murdered by her father Allan Schoenborn in 2008 and, like Donnelly, he was not found criminally responsible because he was experiencing psychosis at the time of the murders.
Schoenborn was also granted a leave of absence from the FPH, despite the objections of the Clarke family.
“Both [Schoenborn and Donnelly] They have been found to pose a high risk to the public and yet the BC Review Board simply doesn’t care. They play to experiment,” he said.
Donnelly remains in custody, charged with three counts of aggravated assault. A bond hearing is scheduled for Friday.