Allan Schoenborn, who killed his three young children in 2008 but was found not criminally responsible for his actions, has taken the first step toward transferring from a B.C. psychiatric hospital to a Manitoba facility where his mother could visit more easily.
Hours after Mr. Schoenborn made the request before an annual hearing at the B.C. hospital on Friday, the British Columbia Review Board ruled in favour of the idea.
Following the hearing, a spokesman for the Crown in B.C said the ruling was only the initial move in the process, which would include talks between the attorneys-general of B.C. and Manitoba.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought renewed attention to the case of Mr. Schoenborn last week, when he spotlighted the tragedy as his government introduced legislation to address concerns about persons found not criminally responsible for their conduct. Provisions include a new "high-risk" designation with a higher threshold for release, and greater input for victims in the handling of persons found not criminally responsible. Mr. Harper also met privately with Darcie Clarke, Mr. Schoenborn's ex-wife.
But in his remarks on Friday, Mr. Schoenborn – clean-shaven, casually dressed in jeans and far more composed than in either his 2009 trial or other hearings since he was hospitalized in 2010 – spoke of the healing love of his mother, who has visited seven times in the last year.
"My family is in Winnipeg. I was born and raised in Winnipeg. It's the right place to be," Mr. Schoenborn said, answering questions from his lawyer Scott Hicks.
In 2008, Mr. Schoenborn – who had a long history of mental illness, including delusional disorder – killed Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8 and five-year-old Cordon while they were in his care at the family home in Merritt, B.C., where they lived with their mother, Ms. Clarke. She did not attend Friday's hearing.
Mr. Schoenborn said his mother had been soothing. "She was very … kind in her visits and very attentive to me so I'd like that to continue in Winnipeg," he said, calling their bond a "proper mother-son relationship." He added, "She loves me and I love her."
Mr. Schoenborn said other family would visit him if he was transferred to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre near Winnipeg. He is not seeking any changes, such as more day passes, in the terms of his confinement.
Marcel Hediger, Mr. Schoenborn's psychiatrist, told the hearing that Mr. Schoenborn had faced "challenges" in his treatment because his crime is well known within B.C.'s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. He did not elaborate. He said being closer to family might help Mr. Schoenborn's recovery. Stacy Galt, Ms. Clarke's cousin and spokesperson, said her extended family was uneasy about a possible transfer to Manitoba because members live in Winnipeg; they fear possible encounters with Mr. Schoenborn if he were given escorted day passes from the facility.
"I feel very sorry for Mrs. Schoenborn, Allan's mother," she said. "To be a parent and have something so heinous happen, and one of your children did it? You don't stop loving them." Ms. Galt said she was surprised by Mr. Schoenborn's manner. "He does not look like Charles Manson anymore. He is very clean-cut shaven, looks like he is in great shape and he's doing very well. I was kind of shocked to see that, but pleased as well. You want people to get better."