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Mentally ill killer of five people in Calgary can be eased into community: board

Last Updated Oct 2, 2019 at 6:15 am MDT

EDMONTON — A review board has ruled that a mentally ill man found not criminally responsible after killing five young people in Calgary can be eased back into the community.

With prior approval, Matthew de Grood will be able to leave Alberta Hospital in Edmonton unsupervised for outings in the city.

With added supervision, he can spend up to three days in the city.

The Alberta Review Board has also decided de Grood will be able to travel within Alberta for up to a week, as long as the trip has been OK’d and he is with a responsible adult.

It also says de Grood could possibly take up residence in a 24-hour supervised group home in Edmonton.

RELATED:¬†Families of de Grood’s victims push for changes to NCR process after review board hearing

Dr. Patrick Baillie is a forensic psychologist, and he told 660 NEWS that this is a natural progression for a case like this.

“He’s been compliant with his treatment program, he shows insight into his illness, he’s been the kind of individual who the review board likes to see progress from,” said Baillie, who is also an expert on cases where someone is found not criminally responsible. “So he hasn’t been in any way discharged by the review board, they’re going to continue to be monitoring his behaviour as these increased privileges come online.”

Baillie also pushed back on the notion this grants near-total freedom to de Grood, as the unsupervised visits will also have to preapproved and for a reasonable purpose.

“It would be to go to a group program, perhaps to attend some courses at a particular designated facility, to participate in some recreational activities. In other words, to take steps that start to make life look more normal than 24 hours a day, seven days a week being in a hospital setting.”

At a hearing last month, the board heard that the 27-year-old is in remission from schizophrenia, but that the consequences of a relapse would be likely to be severe and violent.

WATCH: Review board hearing for Matthew De Grood 

Baillie compared this to the full discharge granted to Vince Li, who murdered a man onboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008 but was also deemed not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

He said the review board has to manage the risks properly.

“Here, we have a very low likelihood of Matthew engaging in future violent behaviour, but if that was to happen, then the offences could be quite severe.”

These limited unsupervised visits could pave the way for a full discharge down the road, but also allows officials the chance to remove the privileges in the event de Grood stops taking his medication or going to doctors.

With files from The Canadian Press