Ontario Criminal

Mental Illness

Board’s conclusion that accused posed significant threat to public safety was reasonable

Accused appealed disposition of review board which ordered that she be detained on secure forensic unit until her condition had improved so as to warrant transfer to general forensic unit. Accused was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder on charges of uttering threats and assaulting peace officer with intent to resist arrest. Board concluded that accused posed significant threat to public safety given that she committed and threatened acts of physical violence and she continued to have active, untreated persecutory delusions. Board accepted evidence from forensic psychiatrist that accused’s symptoms affected her behaviour and required her to be detained in secure forensic unit. Board determined that conditional discharge was not appropriate given accused’s symptoms and fact that she had recently been declared not criminally responsible and had not been treated. Accused argued that board failed to impose least onerous and least restrictive disposition. Accused argued that board relied upon inadmissible hearsay in arriving at its disposition. Amicus curiae argued that board failed to give meaningful consideration to conditional discharge. Appeal dismissed. Board’s conclusion that accused posed significant threat to public safety was reasonable and supported by evidence given that she suffered from active persecutory delusions that remained untreated. Without treatment, which accused continued to refuse, there was ongoing risk of violence. There had been subsequent threats of violence by accused, including threat to her mother and assertion that she would “do anything” to defend herself when threatened by others. Amicus advocated overly-restrictive approach to evidence review board may consider. While information from police occurrence report was form of hearsay evidence, review board enjoyed wide latitude to receive hearsay evidence because of its inquisitorial rather than adversarial process. Information about prior behaviour that led to police involvement was useful in assessing whether accused posed significant threat to safety of public and in determining appropriate disposition. Board did not simply rely on fact that accused had been charged criminally on prior occasions, nor did it accept without question all of facts alleged in occurrence reports. Board, in referring to “necessary and appropriate disposition”, simply tracked language of amended Criminal Code provision, and there was no reason to believe that lesser standard applied. Board did not fail to give meaningful consideration to conditional discharge. In circumstances where accused denied her mental illness, refused treatment, suffered from active and expanding persecutory delusions, and continued to believe that her aggressive responses to perceived threats were justified, there was no air of reality to appropriateness of conditional discharge.

Ranieri, Re (Jun. 18, 2015, Ont. C.A., K.M. Weiler J.A., M. Tulloch J.A., and K. van Rensburg J.A., File No. CA C59183) 122 W.C.B. (2d) 569.

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