CALGARY â€” A Calgary man who was found not criminally responsible after killing five people with a knife three years ago is being granted extra privileges.
Matthew de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder when he attacked and killed Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, at a house party in April 2014.
The judge in the case ruled de Grood didn’t appreciate his actions were wrong.
The Alberta Review Board held a hearing earlier this month to determine whether de Grood, who is housed in a secure hospital, should be granted more freedom.
Family members were notified by email Tuesday afternoon that the board will allow de Grood to go for supervised walks on hospital grounds.
He will also be allowed trips for medical appointments and treatment.
“The review board has granted privileges requested by the treatment team including access to unfenced hospital grounds and visits to Calgary for medical purposes,” said Kaitlin’s father, Gregg Perras, in an email to The Canadian Press.
“The medical visits will be accompanied by staff and security but grounds walkabouts will not include security personnel. I don’t see the lack of security on grounds walks as 100 per cent safe for the public.”
Perras said he was informed there will be a gradual reduction from two staff members to regular supervision, which generally entails two-to-three patents per non-security staff member.
The board also said de Grood could be transferred to a larger facility at Alberta Hospital Edmonton at the discretion of his treatment team.
The board made it clear that de Grood is a “significant threat to the safety of the public” and is not entitled to an absolute discharge.
At his hearing, de Grood had his lawyer read a statement where he said he understands the pain of the families who watched his every move throughout the hearing.
“It breaks my heart that the good times that they had with their loved ones are over. They are shocked, deeply sad, fearful and angry over what I have done through my illness,” he said.
“They may not care that I am a schizophrenic. The act of killing five innocent people and putting their families through that agony is unconscionable. To them, I am either a very evil person or a psychotic individual who is dangerous and can’t be trusted.”
Family members issued a statement after de Grood’s hearing.
“We are now three years into this journey and are unwilling participants in a process that to us, makes little sense and only adds to our nightmare,” said Perras.
“We hold on to the hope that our involvement in the review board process will bring some healing and that our voices will be heard, but regrettably, that is not our experience. This review process only derails our healing.”
De Grood has been a model patient but one psychiatrist said any reintegration back into society will be a slow process.
Dr. Sergio Santana said de Grood is on medication for schizophrenia and hasn’t had any symptoms for almost three years. He said the symptoms have been in “full remission” since July 2014.
He said de Grood is considered at a “low level” for violent recidivism, but acknowledged that is based on him continuing to take his medication and staying in a hospital setting.
He said a failure to take medication and stressors could lead to a relapse if de Grood was outside of the hospital setting.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press