Opinion Column

Child killers like Allan Schoenborn are high risk offenders who should never be released

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Allan Schoenborn is shown in an undated RCMP handout photo. A judge has rejected an application to have a British Columbia man designated a high-risk accused after he was found not criminally responsible for killing his three children nine years ago. (BC RCMP)

Allan Schoenborn is shown in an undated RCMP handout photo. A judge has rejected an application to have a British Columbia man designated a high-risk accused after he was found not criminally responsible for killing his three children nine years ago. (BC RCMP)

“I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

- Clarence Darrow, U.S. lawyer, 1857-1938

How could anyone who brutally murders their own three young children not be designated a high risk offender who should be locked up forever?

That should be obvious – but not to a B.C. Supreme Court judge who last week ruled that Allan Schoenborn – who killed his kids at their home so estranged wife Darcie Clarke would come home to unspeakable horror – is not “a high risk to re-offend.”

What’s more, Justice Martha Devlin’s refusal to designate Schoenborn a high risk offender means he retains the right to apply for escorted day passes from the Colony Farm psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam and have annual hearings instead of every three years.

There’s no question Schoenborn was mentally ill – or not criminally responsible – when he stabbed to death his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne, took a cigarette break and then smothered his sons, Max and Cordon, aged eight and five, in Merritt in April 2008.

The issue is why would society take the chance that his current “remission” won’t end and Schoenborn become violent again?

And Crown prosecutor Wendy Dawson argued he may suffer another psychosis incident:

"Offences of such a brutal nature ... there's a substantial likelihood that Mr. Schoenborn will use violence that could endanger the life and safety of another person in the future.”

Canada’s National Trajectory Project reported 17% of those not criminally responsible re-offended within three years, with 0.6% involving serious violence and another 8.8% other violent acts.

“If Allan won’t be high-risk designation then who will qualify for high-risk designation?” said an emotional Stacy Galt, Clarke’s cousin.

Clarke is asking the Crown to appeal.

“During this hearing we heard from the doctors who treat Allan, that he is dangerous…but now, we have heard from a judge that Allan is NOT to be designated a high risk to public safety? Shameful,” Clarke said in a statement.

Shameful is exactly right. It’s time that the law and judges recognize that some killers can never be trusted to get better enough to gamble on their re-entry into society.

Treat them humanely but lock the door and toss the key – the safety of their victims’ families and the rest of us is too important to risk.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman