Vince Li is a completely changed man -- the voices in his head telling him to kill are silent now -- and he should be given a chance to go to Skinners at Lockport for a hotdog or even to Winnipeg to stroll The Forks.
Just like the rest of us, except accompanied by a security officer and a member of his treatment team from Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Not because of anything he might do, but to make Li and the staff member feel safe from possible attack by the public.
That's what a four-member Manitoba Review Board panel heard Monday in the case of Li, who killed and dismembered Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in July 2008 near Portage la Prairie. A judge later found Li was suffering hallucinations from untreated schizophrenia at the time of the unprovoked attack and ordered him held at the Selkirk centre.
Wearing a dark-grey suit and in shackles, Li sat quietly at the table, head bowed and silent, as lawyers and psychiatrists discussed McLean's slaying, Li's treatment and whether he's well enough to be given increased escorts to Lockport and Winnipeg.
The review board said it would make its decision in one week.
No one at the table disputed Li should be given increased freedom.
"I think that he has reached a baseline, a good clinical baseline," Dr. Steven Kremer said.
Kremer said Li, taking his medication, does not suffer hallucinations and appreciates the gravity of what he did to McLean.
He said Lee is a candidate for unescorted passes on the unfenced grounds of Selkirk Mental Health Centre and continued escorted passes into Selkirk, which started a year ago and to date have not posed any issue. Last year, the board said Li could be allowed supervised trips to Selkirk, starting at 30 minutes and increasing to a full day. The trips to Lockport and Winnipeg would include a single staff person and a security officer.
Kremer and Dr. Stanley Yaren told the board the security officer is needed more to protect Li and the staff member from the public, although there is no known threat against him. Both also said Li is at low risk to reoffend.
"Our attempt here is not to be punitive," Kremer said.
Yaren said there is no therapeutic benefit to Li's continued custodial status and that Li has expressed frustration at the slow pace of regaining his life, but accepts and copes with it.
Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde did not oppose the wider escorted passes for Li, but told the board Li killed once and could again if not closely monitored.
"We don't know what Mr. Li will do if provoked," she said.
Li's lawyer, Alan Libman, said Li is a model patient. "As long as he takes his medication, the public has nothing to fear from Mr. Li," Libman said.
McLean's mother, Carol de Delley, said after the hearing Li should not be granted escorted passes.
"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?"
De Delley has long advocated mentally ill killers such as Li be held indefinitely in a hospital, regardless of any progress they show.
The federal government introduced Bill C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, in February to give the courts a tool when considering the brutality of an offence such as Li's in determining the likelihood of reoffending. It could also be applied retroactively to offenders such as Li who are still receiving treatment and could be used to keep an offender in a hospital three years before they could appear before a review board.
De Delley urged that the bill should be supported.
"I feel sick right now. I physically, nauseously, feel ill because I feel very helpless," she said. "The whole reason I'm doing any of this is so another mom doesn't stand here and do it."