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Judge slams health officials

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A Manitoba judge says a "severely troubled young man" could have been stopped from terrorizing a Winnipeg family had provincial health officials not dropped the ball.

Provincial court Judge Rob Finlayson had harsh criticism Monday for all those who had contact with a 20-year-old home invader in the weeks prior to the October 2010 attack. He said they clearly failed to properly diagnose and treat the man, despite numerous "red flags" something terrible was about to happen.

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"In my view the system failed the accused, it failed the (victim's) family, and it failed our community," said Finlayson. The accused was first arrested in April 2010 while walking through the Exchange District carrying a knife and wearing a disguise. He was quickly released on bail, but the incident triggered his first contact with the mental-health system and a series of psychiatric evaluations and troubling admissions from the young man about hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations.

In September 2010, he told doctors about following a young woman home from a life-skills class he was taking. He had written in his diary about wanting to kill her, but changed his mind after discovering she lived in an apartment and not a home. The doctor contacted the crisis-stabilization unit and he was hospitalized Sept. 25 at the Health Sciences Centre -- but released Sept. 29 when he showed improvement while medicated and claimed he'd made up several stories to seek attention.

"How can he go from homicidal to fine in five days?" defence lawyer Danny Gunn said last month during submissions. Finlayson agreed Monday, questioning why police were not consulted and how doctors could have been tricked so easily into releasing him.

The Crown has suggested the invader is ultimately to blame for what happened as he turned his back on a supportive network of family and doctors willing to help him. They said he has also admitted now to lying about the voices as part of his elaborate plan to set the stage for a possible defence of being not criminally responsible.

-- Mike McIntyre

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 2, 2012 B1

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