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Ex-Abbotsford police chief to probe release of man accused in Chinatown stabbings

Click to play video: 'Report shows accused Vancouver Chinatown stabber was considered a threat'
Report shows accused Vancouver Chinatown stabber was considered a threat
WATCH: We now know why the B.C. Review Board has been so reluctant to share a report on Blair Donnelly, the man accused of stabbing three people in Vancouver's Chinatown. Global News has obtained the report, which shows those in charge of his care said he shouldn't be unsupervised, but as Rumina Daya reports, despite those warnings, he was released into the community anyway – Sep 14, 2023

Former Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich has been hired to probe how a man accused of stabbing three people at a festival in Vancouver’s Chinatown was released from a psychiatric facility, B.C. Premier David Eby announced Thursday.

Blair Evan Donnelly was released on an unescorted day pass from the B.C. Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, popularly known as Colony Farm, despite the B.C. Review Board determining he was still considered a “significant threat to the public.”

Eby said officials were working now to draw up the terms of reference for Rich’s inquiry and ensure he has full access to people and documents, but that priority one will be determining how Donnelly was released, despite the review board’s recommendation.

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

“That is a very significant and profound and concerning issue, so that is number one on Mr. Rich’s to-do list: how is it possible, when the review board says, ‘This guy is dangerous, he shouldn’t be released,’ that then he gets released and attacks people, because that I think is the number one question British Columbians have,” Eby said.

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“And the secondary question of are there other individuals in this circumstance who are also on day passes, which is a disturbing question to ask but a necessary question to ask.”

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Eby said he had “great confidence” in Rich’s abilities, and that the former police chief has been directed to return with answers “as quickly as possible.”

He said he expects the review to return with further avenues for enquiry about how the review board operates and accountability, but that the immediate goal is answers about Donnelly’s release.

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

Donnelly stabbed his 16-year-old daughter to death in 2006, but was found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder. At trial he told the court God told him to commit the stabbing.

Documents from the B.C. Review Board obtained by Global News said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms when manic and a substance use disorder that was in remission.

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The review board stated Colony Farm was the only appropriate placement for him, to ensure proper monitoring, and that since he was first committed to the institution there have been two separate incidents of his “mental state deteriorating abruptly and without apparent warning” resulting in violence.

Click to play video: 'Community reaction to Chinatown stabbings'
Community reaction to Chinatown stabbings

One incident happened in 2009, also while he was on an unescorted day pass from the institution, in which he took cocaine and stabbed someone.

A second incident happened in 2017 when he attacked a fellow patient with a butter knife.

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

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Despite this assessment, Donnelly was granted an unsupervised day pass on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Police allege that same day he randomly stabbed a couple in their 60s and a woman in her 20s at the Light Up Chinatown in Vancouver.

He is facing three charges of aggravated assault and remains in custody.

— with files from Amy Judd

Click to play video: 'B.C. premier ‘white-hot angry’ over stabbing spree suspect’s day pass'
B.C. premier ‘white-hot angry’ over stabbing spree suspect’s day pass

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