The case of a man accused in the fatal beating of a prominent activist in Halifax’s gay community is proceeding to a preliminary inquiry following the completion of a psychiatric assessment that was delayed several times.
Andre Noel Denny, 33, made a brief appearance in Halifax provincial court Monday, where the defence said his psychiatric assessment had been completed.
The assessment, which was intended to address whether Mr. Denny is fit to stand trial, was not disclosed. But defence lawyer Don Murray said he did not object to it, so the case is proceeding to a three-day preliminary inquiry beginning Feb. 19. A focus hearing has been set for Jan. 7.
Outside court, Crown lawyer Darrell Martin said discussing the assessment could compromise Mr. Denny’s right to a fair trial.
“Discussing it would, in fact, disclose a fair amount of evidence,” said Mr. Martin, adding that several reports, including the autopsy report, are yet to be completed.
Mr. Denny — his hair shaved on the sides of his head — sat quietly during the proceedings and was remanded to custody at the East Coast Forensic Hospital.
Mr. Denny, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of Raymond Taavel in the spring.
His psychiatric assessment was extended a number of times over the past several months because Toronto-based psychiatrist Hy Bloom had said he needed more time to go over his medical records.
Mr. Denny was released by the East Coast Forensic Hospital on an unsupervised one-hour pass on April 16, but he didn’t return.
About five hours later, the 49-year-old Taavel was found badly beaten outside a downtown bar after he tried to break up a fight between two men. He died at the scene.
In September, the Nova Scotia government promised to act on a review that found “significant gaps” in controls placed on patients who are given temporary leave from the East Coast Forensic Hospital.
The government has said that future decisions to give patients temporary releases will consider the risks based on a set of explicit criteria.
The report also said the public should be informed of potential risks when a patient is reported missing and it suggests exploring the possibility of using cellphones and pagers to monitor patients on leave.