Fi­nal de­ci­sion to rest with judge

Crown not con­test­ing mur­der ac­cused suf­fered dis­ease of mind at time of crime

The Queens County Advance - - THE BACK PAGE - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF SYD­NEY news@cb­post.com

The pro­vin­cial Crown will not chal­lenge a bid by the de­fence lawyer for a Cape Bre­ton man charged with first-de­gree mur­der to have the ac­cused de­clared not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble (NCR).

Richard Wayne Mcneil, 40, of Gar­diner Mines, is charged in the death of Sara­beth Ann Forbes, 33, whose re­mains were found April 18 in­side the home the cou­ple shared on O’brien Street.

A psy­cho­log­i­cal as­sess­ment com­pleted on Mcneil shortly af­ter he was charged had con­cluded that while the ac­cused was fit to stand trial, he was also con­sid­ered not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble.

The as­sess­ment de­ter­mined Mcneil suf­fered from a dis­ease of the mind at the time of the mur­der. His fam­ily pre­vi­ously in­di­cated he was di­ag­nosed with para­noid schizophre­nia.

Since that as­sess­ment, both Crown lawyer Steve Drake and de­fence lawyer Dar­lene Macrury had Mcneil as­sessed fur­ther by two other psy­chi­a­trists.

Dur­ing a pre-trial hear­ing Thurs­day in Syd­ney, Drake said both re­ports of­fer the same con­clu­sion, that Mcneil should be deemed not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble.

“The Crown will not be chal­leng­ing the NCR des­ig­na­tion,” he said.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion on the des­ig­na­tion will rest with Supreme Court Jus­tice Frank Ed­wards who is ex­pected to pre­side over two days of tes­ti­mony from the Crown and de­fence psy­chi­a­trists.

The first re­port is to be pre­sented Nov. 30, with the sec­ond re­port set for Dec. 4.

Both Drake and Macrury said Thurs­day a joint agreed state­ment of facts will also be pre­sented to the court along with the au­topsy re­port from the pro­vin­cial med­i­cal ex­am­iner.

Both lawyers also said nei­ther plans to chal­lenge the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the other’s ex­pert wit­ness.

In ac­cor­dance with the Crim­i­nal Code, an in­di­vid­ual is not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble if they were suf­fer­ing from a men­tal dis­or­der at the time of the of­fence. Mur­der ac­cused Richard Wayne Mcneil will re­turn to Supreme Court in Syd­ney later this month for a hear­ing to de­cide whether he was crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for mur­der. He is charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the death of his part­ner, Sara­beth Ann Forbes in April.

It must be proven that the dis­or­der made it im­pos­si­ble for the in­di­vid­ual to fully ap­pre­ci­ate and un­der­stand the na­ture and qual­ity of their ac­tions. Also, it must be shown the dis­or­der made it im­pos­si­ble for the in­di­vid­ual to un­der­stand what they did was morally wrong.

A find­ing of dis­ease of the mind be­comes a ques­tion of law with the fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion be­ing

made by a judge.

One of the more re­cent lo­cal NCR cases oc­curred in Syd­ney in Au­gust 2016 and in­volved a Bed­ford man

fac­ing mul­ti­ple at­tempted mur­der charges.

The 21-year-old ac­cused was charged in con­nec­tion with a se­ries of events in June 2016 along the White Rock Road, Vic­to­ria County.

The court was told that while the ac­cused was fit to stand trial, he suf­fered from a se­vere psy­chosis at the time which ren­dered him in­ca­pable of know­ing what he was do­ing was wrong.

Once a court de­clares an ac­cused NCR, the in­di­vid­ual is re­manded to a men­tal health fa­cil­ity where they re­ceive treat­ment and are as­sessed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The first such as­sess­ment must

be com­pleted within 45 days of an in­di­vid­ual be­ing ad­mit­ted.

Such as­sess­ments will help in de­ter­min­ing when an in­di­vid­ual can be re­turned to the com­mu­nity.

Since his ar­rest in April, Mcneil has been on re­mand at the East Coast Foren­sic Hospi­tal in Dart­mouth.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

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