Friday 17 November 2017

Freedom for bus cannibal who beheaded Greyhound passenger

Bus cannibal Vince Li, now known as Will Baker, pictured in 2008 (The Canadian Press/AP)
Bus cannibal Vince Li, now known as Will Baker, pictured in 2008 (The Canadian Press/AP)

A Canadian found not criminally responsible for beheading and cannibalising a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus has been granted his freedom.

Manitoba's Criminal Code Review Board announced it had given Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, an absolute discharge, meaning he is longer subject to monitoring.

Baker, a diagnosed schizophrenic, killed Tim McLean, 22, a carnival worker who was a complete stranger to him, in 2008.

A year later he was found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Mr 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.

In a post on Facebook she said: "I have no words."

Baker was initially kept in a secure wing of a psychiatric hospital but was given more freedom every year.

He has been living on his own in a Winnipeg apartment since November, but was still subject to monitoring to ensure he took his medication.

Baker's doctor, Jeffrey Waldman, told the board earlier this week that he is confident Baker would remain on his medication and continue to work with his treatment team if released.

Dr Waldman said Baker knew it was the medication that kept his illness at bay.

In a written decision, the review board said it "is of the opinion that the weight of evidence does not substantiate that Mr Baker poses a significant threat to the safety of the public".

Dr Waldman said Baker planned to visit his native China if released, but would live in Winnipeg for the next two to three years.

He is on the waiting list for a post-secondary training programme and wants to establish a career in the city.

Baker emigrated to Canada from China in 2001 and later became a Canadian citizen.

He sat next to Mr McLean on the bus after Mr McLean smiled at him and asked how he was doing.

Baker said he heard the voice of God telling him to kill him or "die immediately".

He repeatedly stabbed Mr McLean as he fought for his life and as passengers fled the bus, continued mutilating the body before he was arrested.

He severed McLean's head, displaying it to some of the passengers outside the bus, witnesses said.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person does not pose a significant threat to public safety.

The ruling added there must be clear evidence of a significant risk to the public for the review board to continue imposing conditions after a person is found not criminally responsible.

Conservative opposition MP James Bezan also criticised Baker's release.

He said earlier in the week it would be an insult to Ms de Delley and Mr McLean's other relatives.

Baker's supporters include Chris Summerville, executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, who has met and worked with him over the years.

"He is no longer a violent person," Mr Summerville said.

"I will say, yes, he absolutely understands that he has to (take his medication) and has a desire to live a responsible, moral life and never succumb to psychotic episodes and not to hurt anybody ever again."

AP

Press Association

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