Murder accused fit for trial
Deemed not criminally responsible
Although a psychiatric assessment has deemed a 40-year-old Gardiner Mines man charged with first-degree murder fit to stand trial, it has also concluded the accused was not criminally responsible for his actions.
Richard Wayne McNeil, 40, is charged in the death of 33-yearold Sarabeth
Ann Forbes whose remains were found
April 18 inside a home the couple shared with their young son on
O’Brien Street in Gardiner Mines.
McNeil made a brief provincial court appearance Friday in Sydney after undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth.
The assessment was initially requested by defence lawyer Darlene MacRury after McNeil family members expressed concern over the mental health of the accused.
MacRury told the court that McNeil had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
She also noted that her client’s behaviour while on remand was described as a disconnect from reality and that he does not appear to be fully appreciating the seriousness of the offence.
The assessment determined that while McNeil is mentally fit to stand trial, he does fall within the guidelines of being not criminally responsible for his actions.
Under Canadian law, a mental disorder is defined as a disease of the mind.
However, an offender found to suffer from a mental disorder is not automatically excused from criminal responsibility as such a finding rests with a judge.
The law dictates an accused must have the capacity to understand that their behaviour was wrong in order to be found guilty of an offence.
A person found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder means that at the time of the offence, the individual was not capable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or knew it was wrong.
Such a finding should not be viewed as an acquittal as the offender is committed to a psychiatric facility for treatment.
Their release is subject to a review panel’s determination on when they can be released and under what conditions.
During Friday’s hearing, MacRury and prosecutors Steve Drake and Glen Gouthro agreed that McNeil should be remanded back to the East Coast Forensic Centre which is better equipped to maintain his mental fitness than a provincial jail.
The Crown is also expected to have its own psychiatric assessment of McNeil to determine whether a similar finding of not criminally responsible is reached.
McNeil is now scheduled to return to provincial court June 23.