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Mentally ill man who killed gay rights advocate granted more freedom

Andre Noel Denny arrives at Nova Scotia Provincial court in Halifax on Apr.18, 2012 to be arraigned on charges stemming from the beating death of gay activist Raymond Taavel. .
Andre Noel Denny arrives at Nova Scotia Provincial court in Halifax on Apr.18, 2012 to be arraigned on charges stemming from the beating death of gay activist Raymond Taavel. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Dembeck

Nova Scotia’s highest court has dismissed the Crown’s bid to reverse a decision to grant more freedom to a mentally ill man convicted of fatally beating a well-known gay rights advocate in 2012.

In a decision released Wednesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal says the Criminal Code Review Board’s decision to increase Andre Denny’s privileges inside the East Coast Forensic Hospital was reasonable.

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Last December, the board granted Denny consecutive overnight passes to the hospital’s transition bungalow or daily living suite, both of which are on the hospital grounds in Halifax.

Denny was first sent for treatment at the psychiatric hospital in January 2012, when he was declared not criminally responsible due to mental illness for a separate assault.

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On the night of April 16, 2012, Denny failed to return to the hospital after receiving a one-hour unescorted pass – and he later attacked Raymond Taavel on Gottingen Street in downtown Halifax.

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Denny pleaded guilty to manslaughter and on March 24, 2016, was sentenced to just under eight years in custody.

He completed that sentence but he remains at the forensic hospital because of the earlier offence.