Allan Schoenborn has withdrawn his request for escorted outings from the psychiatric hospital where he is being held for murdering his three young children, citing concerns about the anguish his highly publicized appeal had caused his ex-wife.
His lawyer, Scott Hicks, also told a hearing Thursday that Mr. Schoenborn has been "seriously attacked" in custody due to publicity over the request, and is now in a secure unit for his own safety.
"I wish no further hardships towards Darcie [Clarke] Her stability is paramount," Mr. Hicks said, reading from a written statement his client had provided him for the hearing of the British Columbia Review Board held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam.
The hearing was a follow-up to one earlier this month that approved Mr. Schoenborn's request for outings that could have included visits to a coffee shop, a mall or a pool. Officials decided to revisit the issue because they had not been aware that Ms. Clarke lived in neighbouring Coquitlam and might have encountered her ex-husband.
In his statement, Mr. Schoenborn, 42, said he had learned of his ex-wife's "poor condition" through the media since the hearing earlier this month. That appeared to refer to reports that Ms. Clarke was alarmed at the prospect of running across her ex-husband in town. As a result, he wrote that he was seeking a "strict custody order." The panel later basically agreed, noting Mr. Schoenborn presents a risk to the public.
Thursday's hearing was held under heavy security at the hospital, with Mr. Schoenborn's chair beside his lawyer remaining empty – he chose not to attend the proceedings.
In 2008, Mr. Schoenborn – who had a long history of mental illness, including delusional disorder – murdered Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and five-year-old Cordon, while they were in his care at the home in Merritt, B.C. where they lived with their mother, Ms. Clarke. At trial last year, Mr. Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible due to a mental defect.
Colin Sweeney, head of the review panel, later told reporters it would have conducted a regular hearing had Mr. Schoenborn not withdrawn his request. As it is, he will come for a follow-up hearing at about this time next year.
Mike Clarke, Mr. Schoenborn's former brother-in-law, had a one-word description for news of the assault on Mr. Schoenborn.
"Karma," he told reporters outside the secure area of the hospital, following the emotional hearing. "What comes around is going to come around tenfold, and let's just hope it actually does come around tenfold." He said Mr. Schoenborn should have spent a lot longer in custody before being eligible for such outings.
Ms. Clarke was not present at the hearing, but Stacy Galt – the cousin of Ms. Clarke who has been acting as her spokeswoman – expressed disappointment that Mr. Schoenborn did not show up. "I wanted to see him. I wanted to tell him I am standing up for Darcie, and I wanted him to see me strong, standing there, fighting for her. It was just the biggest copout I have ever seen."
Ms. Galt has said that her cousin moved to Coquitlam to be with family, expecting that her ex-husband would be sent to prison, not the psychiatric hospital in Port Coquitlam.
B.C. Attorney-General Barry Penner said Thursday he spent several hours talking to Ms. Clarke and Ms. Galt earlier this week, and concluded that individuals like Mr. Schoenborn should spend much more time in custody before being eligible for such hearings.
He said that in cases of murder or sexual assault, there should be reviews every three to five years instead of the 12-month cycle of reviews that "keeps victims on a treadmill."
Mr. Penner said in an interview that the extended cycle would only be altered if a treating psychiatrist files a review indicating a material improvement or change in the patient – a proviso he said he expected would help such a proposal survive a Charter challenge.