Law enforcement officials escort murder suspect Vince Li of Edmonton, centre, into the Portage la Prairie provincial courthouse.
Credits: SHANE GIBSON/QMI AGENCY
The victim's father slammed the decision as "a slap in the face to the justice system."
Vince Li, 44, has been held at Selkirk Mental Health Centre since March 2009 after he was found not criminally responsible for killing 22-year-old Tim McLean.
"Our whole family is totally disgusted with this whole issue," said McLean's father, Tim McLean Sr. "I think the review board really hurt Canada with this decision. They seem to be just looking out for his best interests and that's it.
"It seems like they've completely forgotten about what has happened and are looking to get him better and on the street again."
After a hearing Monday, the Criminal Code Review Board decided to grant Li 30-minute escorted passes to Selkirk, at the recommendation of his doctors. If the trips go well, they would increase in duration by 15 minutes each week.
Li suffers from schizophrenia. Court heard at his trial Li was suffering from auditory hallucinations commanding him to kill McLean.
In July 2008, Li stabbed the unsuspecting McLean as he slept. After terrified passengers scrambled out of the bus, Li continued to stab, mutilate and dismember McLean. Witnesses reported seeing Li eat pieces of McLean's body and lick blood from his fingers.
Dr. Steven Kremer told the review board Li is responding well to medication and understands his condition would deteriorate if he were to stop taking them.
"There is no evidence he is harboring any delusional belief," Kremer said. "He is doing very well."
Under the plan, Li would be escorted by one plainclothes peace officer and a clinical nurse.
"I believe the privileges we are asking for would not put the community at risk," said Kremer, who estimated Li's risk of reoffending at less than 1%.
Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde did not oppose the recommendation.
Last June, the review board relaxed conditions restricting Li's access to the hospital grounds, ruling that he gradually be allowed escorted ground passes for up to several hours a day.
McLean's mother said Li should never be allowed off hospital grounds.
"The Crown may not be opposed but I certainly am," Carol deDelley said outside court. "Letting him go puts all the community at risk. Don't give me percentages, the fact is he could do it again."
Li is a patient, not a criminal, and he shouldn't be treated as such, said Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
"Patients get better, they recover, they learn to live with their illnesses," Summerville said. "His risk level is very low. If all (schizophrenia patients) did as well and recovered as well as Mr. Li I would call that miraculous."
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson wondered if it's too soon to allow Li on city streets.
"It's a tough one, it's scary," he said. "There's not much we can do, we have to stand behind (the decision), but I sure hope that they thoroughly do their job and have everything in order."