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Panel to review escorted outings for man who killed his three children

Kaitlynne Schoenborn, 10; Max Schoenborn, 8; and Cordon Schoenborn, 5, are shown in a composite image taken from framed picture at the memorial wall in Merritt, B.C on Thursday April 10, 2008.

The possibility of supervised outings for Allan Schoenborn - who last year was found not criminally responsible in the 2008 murders of his three children - will be subject to a new hearing after officials learned his ex-wife and mother of the children lives in the community where the outings would have taken place.

"Because of a recent disclosure, the board is reconvening this hearing to determine whether or not it would affect any aspect of the board's disposition on this matter," British Columbia Review Board registrar Paula Thorburn said Wednesday.

Attorney-General Barry Penner confirmed a new hearing would be held.

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The B.C. Review Board on April 5 decided Mr. Schoenborn would be eligible for escorted access to the community under a number of conditions, including a green light from the forensic psychiatric hospital where he is now in custody.

The possibility of escorted outings for Mr. Schoenborn - who killed his three children in Merritt and then fled into the bush, where he was found days later - triggered an outpouring of public anger, particularly after family members of Darcie Clarke, Mr. Schoenborn's former wife, went public with worries over releases for a man with a documented history of violence.

Several recent media reports have stated that Ms. Clarke lives in Coquitlam, close to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, where Mr. Schoenborn has been held since his trial last year, in Port Coquitlam.

But Dr. Johann Brink, who is clinical director of the psychiatric hospital and would had a role in approving any outings, appeared to learn of Ms. Clarke's place of residence during an interview Wednesday, when CKNW's Bill Good asked Dr. Brink about the public-safety implications of releasing a mentally ill individual into the community where his wife is "living in fear."

Dr. Brink responded he "certainly was not aware of his ex-wife's whereabouts," adding that the information could change his recommendations on supervised releases for Mr. Schoenborn, a position he subsequently confirmed to The Globe and Mail.

Ms. Clarke's cousin Stacy Galt, who had been speaking out against the supervised releases, said Wednesday's reversal seemed as though the board was seeking to make the best of the situation after having "dropped the ball" in making its decision to allow outings for Mr. Schoenborn.

"They're backtracking," Ms. Galt said. "It seems like something has fallen through the cracks and they have to make up for it."

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But a spokeswoman for B.C. Mental Health and Addiction Services, the agency that oversees the hospital where Mr. Schoenborn now resides, said the agency "made great efforts to learn the whereabouts of family members who would have an interest in Mr. Schoenborn going out on community visits."

"This is standard protocol," Laurie Dawkins said on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, some of the individuals connected with this case made great effort to remain anonymous - which is understandable - but it prevented us from knowing about their current residence."

Review board chairman Bernd Walter said the board did not know about Ms. Clarke's location, Mr. Penner said. A victim impact statement filed by Ms. Clarke included no information on where she was living, nor was such formation required.

Mr. Penner said the Criminal Code should be amended to make sure such information is available in future in such psychiatric cases.

"In this case, it looks like something happened that was very difficult for the public to understand," Mr. Penner said. "I was surprised when I first heard about the decision and then as more information became available - that the mother of the three children was actually living in close proximity to Colony Farm and where this individual may be granted escorted absences - it just exacerbated that concern."

Asked about Ms. Clarke's future plans, Ms. Galt was blunt.

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"She has no plans for the future. Her future is gone with her children. She can't get past this."

Ms. Galt said Mr. Schoenborn was not a factor when Ms. Clarke moved to Coquitlam to be with family.

"When she came to be with me, it was during the court case. We never, ever thought he would end up there," she said, referring to the psychiatric facility where Mr. Schoenborn is being held.

Instead, they assumed he would be sent to prison.

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About the Authors
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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