By Trevor Busch
A 46-year-old Taberite facing three counts of attempted murder in relation to a Grassy Lake stabbing assault in late 2015 has been found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, and his case has been referred to a provincial review board.
Patrick Leo McGann appeared before Judge D.G Redman in Taber provincial court on Jan. 19 via CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre, where he is currently being held in custody. Although no pleas were entered, facts in the case were read into the record by Crown prosecutor Michael Fox.
On the morning of Oct. 4, 2015, the accused, who has an extensive history of mental illness, had arrived at a residence occupied by members of his extended family on an acreage near Purple Springs. McGann, who had made previous statements of a threatening nature toward individuals residing at the home, entered the residence carrying a utility knife and proceeded to deeply slash the throat of one of the first male victims while in the kitchen area. The accused then engaged in a struggle with the second female victim, making repeated attempts to a slash the throat of this individual before punching her several times, resulting in a fractured orbital bone, before the victim lost consciousness. A third male victim, who had been sleeping in a basement bedroom at the time of the incident, was also attacked by the accused who attempted to slash the throat of this individual, causing various facial lacerations. After a brief struggle, the victim managed to extricate himself and in an attempt to flee the residence, seized a steak knife and stabbed the accused in the arm, at which point McGann left the residence and fled the vicinity.
Following this, a 9-1-1 call was placed, and after emergency personnel arrived, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP were notified of the situation and an investigation was initiated, as well as attempts to locate McGann. The three adults (ages 28, 46, and 55) that had been stabbed at the residence were transported to receive medical treatment. Taber police later conducted a high-risk traffic stop and arrested the suspect at the Taber Tim Hortons drive-thru.
A 30-day psychiatric assessment had been ordered for McGann in Calgary on Oct. 13, 2015 by Judge D.G. Redman, but he was not admitted until Oct. 28 and the assessment was not completed in the allotted time period, warranting a three-week extension, which was granted on Nov. 10, 2015. The accused was held in custody throughout the duration of the assessment. In Taber provincial court on Dec. 23, 2015, Crown prosecutor Michael Fox had indicated to the court he had reviewed the report, and the results of the assessment had determined the accused was currently mentally unfit to instruct council. On that date, representative for the defence, attorney Wade Hlady, acknowledged his client had received a negative assessment on the state of his mental fitness and ability to participate in his own defence.
During the reading of an agreed statement of facts, Fox had noted that prior to date of the incident, the accused had been witnessed by a number of the victims as well as other individuals displaying paranoid and unstable behaviour, as well as making comments of a threatening nature. It was also apparent the accused’s mental fitness was in question, expressing on several occasions his belief that members of his family had been attempting to poison him, or that he was “God” and could do whatever he wanted without consequence.
The results of McGann’s mental fitness assessments were reviewed briefly by Fox in Taber provincial court on Tuesday, which concluded the accused was unfit to instruct council by reason of mental disorder, and that McGann was a schizophrenic, suffered from a cannabis use disorder, and showed traits consistent with anti-social personality disorder. Fox also indicated the accused had been found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder on several other occasions in relation to criminal matters, in Alberta in 2002, 2005, and 2013, and in Ontario in 2004.
One of the victims in the case, the brother in law of the accused, was present in the courtroom on Tuesday to hear the ruling on McGann’s case.
After a 90-day period allowing the provincial review board to render their recommendation, the case will return to Lethbridge provincial court on May 27. All other charges in connection facing McGann, with the exception of the three counts of attempted murder, were stayed by the Crown.