Former police chief to review release of triple stabbing suspect deemed ‘significant threat’

The man accused of stabbing three people in Vancouver’s Chinatown while out on a day pass from a forensic psychiatric hospital was described as a “significant threat” and a “high risk of relapsing” at a hearing five months ago.

A British Columbia Review Board (BCRB) document dated April 13, 2023 and published by CHEK News, also said Blair Evan Donnelly has a “pattern of rapid decompensation and violence in the past.”

“The accused has re-offended after long periods of remission between violent episodes and without any significant warning signs,” said the document. “Therefore, a cautious approach is necessary to protect the public.”

CBC’s requests for the documents have been denied by the BCRB.

Donnelly allegedly stabbed three strangers — a couple in their 60s and a woman in her early 20s — at the Light Up Chinatown festival on Sunday.

On Thursday, Premier David Eby announced that former Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich will conduct an independent review of how Donnelly was allowed to leave the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam on a day pass.

In 2006, Donnelly was charged with second-degree murder for the gruesome stabbing death of his 16-year-old daughter. He was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder (NCRMD) and was incarcerated at the forensic hospital.

The BCRB document notes two other stabbing incidents.

In 2009, while out on a day pass, Donnelly consumed cocaine and then “suddenly” stabbed a friend. Donnelly was convicted of assault with a weapon and sentenced to 45 days in jail.

In 2017, he suddenly attacked a fellow patient with a butter knife shortly after returning from a leave and was subsequently found not criminally responsible on a charge of assault with a weapon and granted an absolute discharge.

“Of significant concern regarding risk assessment, is that all the incidents occurred without warning signs and that the two relapses occurred after lengthy periods of remission without any indicators of decompensation,” said the document.

Despite the evidence presented at the April hearing, Donnelly was granted release from the FPH for up to 28 days, at the discretion of the hospital director. 

Victims rights advocate Dave Teixeira believes there needs to be more accountability from the B.C. Review Board and more transparency into its decisions behind releases.

“Looking at the decision and reasons, he’s a high risk to re-offend. He’s a violent offender. He’s had numerous instances. Why is he being let out? That is really the question,” said Teixeira. “The review board process needs to be held accountable for the decision to allow Donnelly leave.”

Teixeira is an advocate for Darcy Clarke and her family. Clarke’s three children were murdered by their father Allan Schoenborn in 2008 and similar to Donnelly, he was found not criminally responsible because he was experiencing psychosis at the time of the killings.

Schoenborn has also been granted leave from the FPH, despite the Clarke family’s objections.

“Both [Schoenborn and Donnelly] have been found to be a high risk to the public and yet the B.C. Review Board just doesn’t care. They play experiments,” he said. 

Donnelly, 64, remains in custody charged with three counts of aggravated assault. A bail hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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