Three years to the day after his three children were found slain in their family home, Allan Schoenborn was granted supervised leave from the psychiatric hospital where he has been confined since he was found not criminally responsible in their deaths.
On Wednesday, the B.C. Review Board announced they had approved Mr. Schoenborn's request at his review hearing the day before for supervised visits away from the hospital.
The board said Mr. Schoenborn may have the escorted visits, but must not use alcohol or drugs, possess a weapon or contact his ex-wife.
It was his ex-wife, the children's mother, Darcie Clarke, who found the children dead in her Merritt, B.C., home on April 6, 2008. Ten-year-old Kaitlynne was in her bedroom, her throat slashed, while eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon were lying on the couch, suffocated.
Their father later said he had murdered them to protect them from drug lords trying to molest them.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge found him not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, saying he did not know his actions were wrong. Mr. Schoenborn was placed in a psychiatric hospital to be treated for his delusional disorder.
News that he would be granted escorted leave came as a shock to residents of Merritt, the small ranching community in the Interior of B.C. where Mr. Schoenborn was found in the woods 10 days after police were summoned to the trailer, his wrists slashed by his own hand.
"I find it absolutely incredible and so do the people who I've talked to on the street here," local New Democrat MLA Harry Lali told The Canadian Press.
"Here you have this brutal murderer and ... he's being allowed leave into the community and people are right upset about it."
Dr. Johann Brink, director of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam, B.C., where Mr. Schoenborn is receiving treatment, told the review board on Tuesday that his aggression has declined, his disorder is in remission, and he has been moved to a low-security unit.
Dr. Brink supported supervised outings, but said Mr. Schoenborn must be closely monitored because he has "unresolved anger issues."
"He's no longer of that intensity, but I think the underlying proclivity is still there," Dr. Brink said during the hearing. "In my view, he needs some significant more work."
It will be at Dr. Brink's discretion to approve Mr. Schoenborn's visits upon specific request.
Crown lawyer Lyle Hillaby read out a victim impact statement during the hearing from Ms. Clarke.
"'I'm completely lost without them,"' Mr. Hillaby read. "'It gets harder, not easier."'
Ms. Clarke has been going to counselling, he told the review board, but has retreated from social situations and does not want Mr. Schoenborn released.
Mr. Hillaby warned the board not to trust Mr. Schoenborn because of his violent history, but said he would support hospital staff granting him escorted visits.
"I've never worried about anyone that this institution has given passes to," he told reporters after the hearing.
At his first review hearing last year, Mr. Schoenborn shouted, interrupted and swore. He said he wanted to be discharged completely from the hospital, but was denied on the grounds that he was still a threat to society.
This time around, he spoke slowly and admitted that he had been disturbed by illness when he killed the children.
He said he wants to be able to go for a coffee outside the hospital, but would stay committed to his medication and addictions counselling, and would remain at the hospital for another year.
"I'm looking for the answers to what happened, and I don't want anything to gum up the works," he said Tuesday.
"Baby steps. I can't jump too far - as I learned last year - too fast."
Although the board placed conditions on Mr. Schoenborn, including that he not contact his ex-wife, Mr. Lali said that's not good enough.
"That's just unbelievable that the board would allow somebody who's a brutal murderer out just so soon, while the wounds are so fresh," Mr. Lali said. "People are incredulous about how it could happen."