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Accused Chinatown festival stabber was still considered ‘significant threat’: Documents

Click to play video: 'Furor over Chinatown stabbing suspect’s day pass from Coquitlam facility'
Furor over Chinatown stabbing suspect’s day pass from Coquitlam facility
Politicians and community leaders are expressing anger over the accused Chinatown festival attacker having been out on an unescorted day pass from a psychiatric facility, while B.C. Premier David Eby is promising a review of the case. Grace Ke reports – Sep 12, 2023

Documents from the B.C. Review Board, obtained by Global News, show that the man accused of stabbing three people in Chinatown over the weekend was still considered a “significant threat to the public,” despite his release the weekend of Sept. 10.

The decision was made this past April in the case of Blair Evan Donnelly, who is a patient at the forensic psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam.

Donnelly was found not criminally responsible for stabbing his 16-year-old daughter to death in 2006. He told the court that God told him to stab his daughter.

The April report said the only appropriate placement for Donnelly is at the hospital, to ensure appropriate monitoring.

It states that Donnelly has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, with psychotic symptoms when manic, and a substance use disorder that is in remission.

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Click to play video: 'Searching for accountability in Chinatown stabbing'
Searching for accountability in Chinatown stabbing

Since Donnelly was detained at Colony Farm Hospital following the 2006 stabbing of his daughter, the documents state that there have been two further incidents of mental deterioration resulting in violence.

“Both involved Mr. Donnelly’s mental state deteriorating abruptly and without apparent warning,” the documents read.

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The first incident happened in 2009 when Donnelly was on day leave from the hospital. It said he met up with a former hospital patient, consumed cocaine with him for “several hours” before going to a friend’s home where he suddenly stabbed the victim.

He was given 45 days in jail for that offence.

The second incident occurred in 2017 when Donnelly had been on leave from the hospital but was ordered to come back “after concerns were expressed by staff that he was becoming preoccupied with religious matters.”

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However, shortly after his return to the hospital, Donnelly attacked a fellow patient with a butter knife, the documents state. He was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder on a charge of assault with a weapon and absolutely discharged by the court.

Click to play video: 'Chinatown festival stabbing victims recount attack'
Chinatown festival stabbing victims recount attack

In May 2021, Donnelly appeared before the Review Board and it was concluded that while he had made “good progress”, he was not yet ready for a conditional discharge and over the next few years increased his visits to Coast Transitional Cottages, which helps patients who are re-integrating into the community from the forensic psychiatric hospital.

However, he was again sent back to a unit in the hospital after a cottage staff member wrote a letter stating Donnelly had become “uncharacteristically abrupt and assertive” according to the documents.

It was also revealed that Donnelly had been living in an unstaffed cottage for three days before his transfer back to the hospital.

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At a hearing in May 2022, two doctors recounted that Donnelly presents a “high risk of relapse given his pattern of rapid decompensation and violence in the past.”

One doctor testified that a cautious approach would be necessary in order to protect the public.

According to the documents, it stated that it was recommended that Donnelly return to the cottages at some point, but only if there was enhanced care available.

The Review Board takes testimony into consideration but it is their job to make a decision that is “necessary and appropriate” given the circumstances.

On April 13, 2023, the board concluded that Donnelly “continues to meet the threshold of significant threat,” according to the documents.

“He requires significant supervision to ensure he does not cause further harm to the public.”

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The board concluded that Donnelly was to remain at Colony Farm until the Enhanced Program of Care would be available at the Coast Transitional Cottages.

However, it remains unclear how Donnelly was granted an unsupervised day pass on Sunday, Sept. 10.

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