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Man who killed his children should be allowed escorted trips, board hears

Allan Dwayne Schoenborn is shown in an undated RCMP handout photo.


The mental health of a British Columbia man found not criminally responsible for murdering his three children has improved enough that he should be allowed escorted visits into the community, his lawyer and the Crown agree.

But Allan Schoenborn acknowledged Tuesday he is not yet ready for full release from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam, east of Vancouver, where he has been receiving treatment for the past year.

"It's a long road from here to there, to have no more custody," Schoenborn told a B.C. Review Board hearing when asked why he wanted the limited freedom, instead of the complete discharge he asked for last year.

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The review board reserved its decision.

Mr. Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible last February for killing his three children - ages five, eight and 10 - exactly three years ago.

On Tuesday, he explained that he wanted the escorted visits, in part, to go to the mall and have a coffee.

"Baby steps. I can't jump too far - as I learned last year - too fast."

Mr. Schoenborn said he plans to keep taking his medication and perhaps look for some construction work.

When asked if he remembered killing his children, he said: "I feel awful about it. Terrible day."

Mr. Schoenborn, wearing a blue collared shirt, black pants and white shoes, with short hair and a clean-shaven face, was mostly quiet during the hearing, a contrast to his profane outbursts during last year's hearing.

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He said he understands he can get unstable and paranoid.

"I can fade off into a nightmare that's not really happening," he said in a quiet, slow voice. "I figure there's something awry. I can't put my finger on it."

Last year, B.C. Supreme Court Judge Robert Powers ruled Mr. Schoenborn had been in a psychotic state when he murdered his children and didn't know his actions were wrong.

Crown counsel Lyle Hillaby told the three-member review board that he should be given escorted visits from the facility at the discretion of staff.

But he cautioned the board about Mr. Schoenborn's past.

"He is not to be trusted," Mr. Hillaby told the hearing. "He had a terrible history with violence and anger."

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Johann Brink, director of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, told the board that Mr. Schoenborn has progressed over the past year.

His aggression has "dissipated" and he has completed several programs, including anger management and addictions counselling, said Dr. Brink.

Mr. Schoenborn now lives in a low-security unit and has been diagnosed with a delusional disorder, which Dr. Brink said is in remission.

The doctor said he supports only escorted visits into the community during the day for Mr. Schoenborn, because he still has "unresolved anger issues."

"In my view, he needs some significant more work," Dr. Brink told the hearing.

"The risk is he will run into situations that will be an irritant to him and he may react [with anger]and he may react violently."

He said Mr. Schoenborn no longer believes his children were being threatened by drug lords, but he has not come to terms with his illness and does not know what caused him to murder them on April 6, 2008.

Mr. Schoenborn's lawyer, Scott Hicks, argued that it's "realistic" to grant his client visits into the community at the discretion of hospital staff.

He said Mr. Schoenborn is engaged with his treatment, has committed no violent act over the past year, and suffers no more symptoms of psychosis.

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