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Man who killed Toronto police officer with snowplow will be held at psychiatric hospital

Richard Kachkar, the man accused of murder in the snowplow death of a Toronto police officer made his first appearance before a packed courtroom on Jan. 21, 2011.

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A man found not criminally responsible for killing a Toronto police officer with a snowplow will be detained in a psychiatric hospital, though he will be allowed out into the community under supervision.

The Ontario Review Board has accepted a joint submission from both the Crown and the lawyer for Richard Kachkar, 46, that he should be sent to the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, east of Toronto.

Kachkar's lawyer Bob Richardson and the Crown had jointly recommended Kachkar also be allowed to walk the grounds of the hospital while escorted by staff.

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The review board, which manages people found not criminally responsible, agreed in its decision released Monday.

The five-member board, including two psychiatrists, a retired lawyer and a member of the public, also ruled that the head of the hospital may allow Kachkar to go into the community of Whitby, while escorted by staff, at the hospital's discretion.

The hospital will have to notify the local police if Kachkar is going into the community, the board ruled.

Kachkar was also ordered not to consume alcohol or non-medicinal drugs and to submit to random urine or breath testing. The evidence at his trial was that Kachkar didn't have drug or alcohol problems, but it is a standard condition for those under the purview of the review board.

The board did not release its reasons for its decision.

Kachkar was found not criminally responsible last month after a trial in the death of Toronto Police Sergeant Ryan Russell, 35.

His trial heard that Kachkar yelled about the Taliban, Chinese technology and microchips as he drove the stolen plow around Toronto for two hours, crashing into a luxury car dealership and several other vehicles before hitting and killing Russell.

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The verdict means the jury believed the expert testimony of three psychiatrists that Kachkar's psychosis rendered him unable to appreciate what he was doing when he hit and killed Russell in January, 2011.

Now that Kachkar has been ordered detained in a psychiatric hospital, he will have hearings on an annual basis to assess his progress and determine if he should be allowed additional privileges.

At the review board hearing Friday, psychiatrist Dr. Philip Klassen said Kachkar should be put on anti-psychotic medication while detained in the medium secure facility – a designation that means he will be housed behind two sets of locked doors.

Review boards have the power to order a person found not criminally responsible detained in a hospital or release them either with or without conditions.

Absolute discharges are not granted until the board is satisfied the person no longer poses a significant threat to public safety.

Kachkar still poses a risk, though his prognosis is very good, Klassen said.

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When Kachkar began to seriously deteriorate in the weeks before he stole a snowplow and killed Russell, he wasn't hiding his symptoms well and those around him could tell something was wrong, Klassen said. Given the scrutiny Kachkar will receive, his risk could be managed, the psychiatrist said.

The NCR verdict has been hard to swallow for Russell's family, who delivered emotional and at times angry victim impact statements to the review board Friday.

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