April 23rd, 2024

Suspect in B.C. triple stabbing has history of ‘sudden’ violence: review board

By The Canadian Press on March 14, 2024.

The man accused of stabbing three people at a festival in Vancouver's Chinatown had a history of "sudden" violence and showed no signs of deteriorating mental health that day, when he was granted day leave from a psychiatric hospital. Cyclists ride past a neon Chinatown sign in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday Aug. 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

COQUITLAM, B.C. – The man accused of stabbing three people at a festival in Vancouver’s Chinatown had a history of “sudden” violence but a report says he showed no signs of deteriorating mental health as he left a psychiatric hospital that day.

The report posted on the website of the B.C. Review Board says Blair Donnelly had been leaving the forensic hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., on unaccompanied day passes “several times per week, without issue,” in the months leading up to the stabbings.

It shows Donnelly met four times with his treatment team between his appearance at the review board last April and the Chinatown assaults in September, and “no concerns were reported” about his mental state.

The report says he presented as “settled, calm and co-operative” during an assessment before leaving for a bike ride, but police and prosecutors say he instead went to Vancouver, and now faces three counts of aggravated assault.

Donnelly, who is in his mid-60s, had previously been found not criminally responsible for stabbing his teenage daughter to death in 2006.

The review board document says Donnelly has “a history of acting out violently with the use of weapons” and in all cases, he has showed “no warning signs.”

“The accused’s mental condition either deteriorated very quickly after he left (the hospital) or was present but was well hidden from experienced treatment providers who know him well,” the decision says.

“In either case, the result was that (he) engaged in significant unprovoked violence without apparent warning.”

The board’s latest decision shows he is also accused of attacking his cell mate at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre two days after the Chinatown stabbings.

Before that, the decision says he stabbed a friend while on a previous day release in 2009 after a cocaine binge, and in 2017 he attacked a fellow detainee at the Coquitlam hospital with a butter knife shortly after returning from an outing.

The board ruled last April that Donnelly remained a “significant” threat to public safety. But he was nevertheless allowed further unescorted time in the community.

The board’s decision, dated Dec. 4, 2023, says Donnelly has been remanded in custody following the stabbings last fall.

The board ordered him to remain at the hospital, where he would have no “privileges.”

The decision will be up for review in 12 months, it says.

Donnelly has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault after the attacks at the Light Up Chinatown! festival, which left three people seriously injured.

At the time, B.C. Premier David Eby told reporters he was “white-hot” angry over the approval of Donnelly’s day release without supervision.

He appointed former Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich to look into how “such a dangerous person” could be allowed into the community unescorted, and whether other similar cases exist.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.

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