Man deemed not re­spon­si­ble

Mother, grand­par­ents killed by in­di­vid­ual with schizophre­nia

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON/PROVINCE -

A men­tally ill man who killed his mother and two grand­par­ents was found not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for the mur­ders by a Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court judge.

Codey Regi­nald Hen­ni­gar, 32, was ar­rested in Jan­uary 2015 af­ter the bod­ies of his 54-year-old mother, Mil­dred Ann Ward, and her par­ents, Clif­ford and Ida Ward, were found fol­low­ing a fire in­side his home in Wy­ses Cor­ner, N.S.

On Tues­day, Judge Pa­trick Mur­ray agreed with the de­fence and Crown that Hen­ni­gar, who had pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted to the killings, was not re­spon­si­ble for his ac­tions be­cause of his schizophre­nia.

Hen­ni­gar was tried on three counts of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

“It’s a case of un­speak­able tragedy,’’ said Crown at­tor­ney Mark Heerema in an in­ter­view fol­low­ing the court pro­ceed­ing.

“There was a large con­tin­gent of fam­ily and friends of the vic­tims in court (Tues­day),’’ he said. “Un­der­stand­ably it was a very dif­fi­cult pro­ceed­ing for them and a dif­fi­cult day for them — this af­fected a great deal of lives.’’

Heerema said the vic­tims died of a com­bi­na­tion of blunt­force in­juries to the head and smoke in­hala­tion.

“Mr. Hen­ni­gar made a se­ries of agree­ments at his trial as well as ad­mis­sions that he killed his fam­ily mem­bers and ... af­ter the in­di­vid­u­als were killed Mr. Hen­ni­gar set the house on fire,’’ he said.

Heerema said at least one of the vic­tims was still alive when the fire was set.

Po­lice dis­cov­ered the bod­ies in­side the burned out re­mains of the home in a ru­ral, wooded area about 25 kilo­me­tres north­east of Hal­i­fax’s air­port.

Hen­ni­gar was ar­rested af­ter he rammed two RCMP ve­hi­cles with a car in the Mil­ford area, about a half-hour drive from the scene of the blaze.

Heerema said the Crown was con­fi­dent the ver­dict was the re­sult of a “very thor­ough can­vass­ing and con­sid­er­a­tion of the is­sues.’’

“It’s a case where three psy­chi­a­trists with a com­bined ex­pe­ri­ence of over 70 years felt very strongly that this was the ap­pro­pri­ate ver­dict. And af­ter re­view­ing the law, Jus­tice Mur­ray cer­tainly agreed with that opin­ion.’’

De­fence lawyer Mal­colm Jef­f­cock said Hen­ni­gar’s med­i­cal records lead­ing up to the in­ci­dent as well as the ob­ser­va­tions of wit­nesses about his con­di­tion in the months and years prior were also a fac­tor.

“He had been an in­di­vid­ual who had shown a clas­sic pro­gres­sion of the ill­ness with­out treat­ment,’’ said Jef­f­cock.

He said the judge’s de­ci­sion de­rives from a sys­tem of jus­tice that since 1843 has rec­og­nized that a per­son who fails to ap­pre­ci­ate the “na­ture and qual­ity of their ac­tion’’ due to a men­tal dis­or­der should not be con­victed of an of­fence.

“It hap­pens fairly in­fre­quently but un­for­tu­nately some­times the cases that catch peo­ple’s at­ten­tion are the cases that in­volve some­thing that is truly tragic, such as this case,’’ said Jef­f­cock.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.