A man by the name of Vincent Li had a schizophrenic episode while travelling on a Greyhound bus. During the episode, he fatally stabbed and beheaded Tim McLean, the young man sleeping next to him on a Greyhound Bus in Manitoba on July 30, 2008. Li told a mental-health advocate he heard the voice of God telling him McLean was an alien who he needed to destroy. Li was found not criminally responsible and was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
In 2009 he was found not criminally responsible for his actions and confined to a mental health facility. While undergoing treatment he received increasing privileges and freedoms. Just recently he was declared fit for release to the public with an absolute discharge. Doctors have cleared him saying he is no longer a threat. In addition, he has no restrictions placed upon him. He now goes by the name Will Baker and will be living in Winnipeg.
The family of the victim is understandably outraged at the news. “McLean’s mother, Carol de Delley, has been outspoken against granting Baker freedom, saying there would be no way to ensure he continued to take his medication.“[i] He concern is that the man still poses a threat to the public. She has been an outspoken critic of the freedoms he’s received while undergoing treatment.
There has been some public outcry claiming that Li should not be allowed to leave the facility, or that he should face criminal charges for murder. They feel his mental health should not play a factor in the criminal justice system. Such a stance would be of no help. It would be advocating revenge, not justice. Society simply cannot punish the mentally ill for having an illness. It does nothing to solve the problem of the illness, nor does it help prevent such actions occurring in the future. Crimes caused due to a mental health issue cannot be considered the same as crimes which are undertaken by free choice. Legal repercussions do nothing to prevent outbursts of violence caused by mental illness.
As much as Li’s release hurts those surrounding McLean’s death, no justice can be served while ignoring mental health issues in favour of revenge.
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If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness, please seek help.
[i] Lambert, Steve. Man who beheaded Greyhound bus passenger granted full discharge. Canadian Press. (Retrieved: February 12th, 2017) http://globalnews.ca/news/3242308/man-who-beheaded-greyhound-bus-passenger-granted-full-discharge