Vince Li, who killed a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in 2008, is free to visit Lockport and Winnipeg as long as his escort can call for help quickly and there’s a security officer to accompany him.
The Manitoba Review Board released its decision Friday to allow Li increased day passes from Selkirk Mental Health Centre, following a hearing Monday.
The four-member panel said Li will be able to go on escorted trips as of May 24 as long as his condition is stable to leave the locked facility.
Li was already allowed short escorted visits into Selkirk, but soon will be able to make supervised, full-day trips farther afield to Lockport, Winnipeg and nearby beaches.
Li was found not criminally responsible for the beheading of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in July 2008 near Portage la Prairie. A judge found Li suffered hallucinations from untreated schizophrenia at the time of the unprovoked attack and ordered him held at the Selkirk centre.
The board said it took into consideration both the need to protect the public from dangerous persons and Li’s reintegration in society.
"The treatment team is of the opinion that his condition is stable and that it would be appropriate and safe for him to leave the locked ward," the board said in its order.
It said based on the recommendations of his treatment team, Li would be allowed unsupervised hospital ground passes beginning at 15 minutes and increasing incrementally to a maximum of a full day.
Li will also be allowed supervised passes to Selkirk and Lockport to a maximum of a full day, plus one-to-one supervised visits to Winnipeg, up a maximum of a full day.
The board said security staff at the hospital must be advised of each outing and its duration. Plus, for any passes off hospital grounds, the supervising staff member is to be equipped with either a two-way radio or a cellphone. Li is to be escorted at all times by a security officer.
Li must take his prescribed medication and comply with all directions.
Overnight, he will continue to reside at the locked forensic ward of the Selkirk centre.
The Crown did not oppose the increased passes for Li, although Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde stressed Li had killed once and could again if not closely monitored.
McLean’s mom, Carol de Delley, said after Monday’s hearing Li should not be granted escorted passes. She has said mentally ill killers such as Li must be held indefinitely in a hospital. "I don’t feel particularly safe or comfortable with Vince Li having these outings," she said. "I had the assumption before all of this happened that we all have basic human rights. So how come Timothy’s aren’t being considered here and only Vince Li’s are?"
Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan expressed dismay with the review board’s ruling: "This is an insult to the family of the man he beheaded and cannibalized, Tim McLean. Canadians expect that their justice system will keep them safe from high-risk individuals."
The federal government introduced Bill C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, in February in response to a recommendation last spring that Li be allowed to have escorted walks away from the hospital to Selkirk.
The bill would create a new category of high-risk offenders who can’t be considered for release until a court agrees to revoke the designation. They would not have a review of their status for three years, would not be given unescorted passes and would only get escorted passes under narrow circumstances.
The law would make public safety the main consideration in such cases and ensure victims would be notified when the offender is released. The law could also be applied retroactively.
Advocates said the bill further stigmatizes the mentally ill, incorrectly suggests the likelihood of reoffending is connected to the brutality of the crime and makes people unnecessarily afraid of those with mental illness.