Final decision to rest with judge
Crown not contesting murder accused suffered disease of mind at time of crime
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.