Harry Richardson was found guilty on four counts at the Nelson Courthouse on March 22 and has now been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness. File photo

Harry Richardson was found guilty on four counts at the Nelson Courthouse on March 22 and has now been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness. File photo

Man who fired at RCMP officers in West Kootenay found not criminally responsible

Harry Richardson found to be mentally ill during 2019 incident in Argenta

A man who shot an RCMP officer during a 2019 incident in Argenta has been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Harry Richardson was found guilty of reckless discharge of a firearm, careless use of a firearm, unlawfully in a dwelling-house, and unlawful attempt to cause bodily harm in Nelson court on March 22.

After the verdict, Richardson applied to the court for a decision that he was not criminally responsible, and provided evidence from two psychiatrists to support him. A hearing was held on April 13, and Judge Philip Seagram gave his decision and reasons on May 4.

To be found not criminally responsible, the Criminal Code of Canada states the accused person must be shown to be suffering from a mental disorder, and that disorder renders the person “incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act, or of knowing that it was wrong.”

A person found not criminally responsible does not automatically go free, but may be subject to detention in a mental health facility. This determination has not yet been made for Richardson.

The Argenta incident, which featured 22 shots fired at police, shook the small West Kootenay community located north of Kaslo. Richardson was arrested on Oct. 11, 2019 after an overnight standoff.

Seagram said in the opinion of a forensic psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist, both of whom had interviewed and examined Richardson, he was ill with schizophrenia at the time of the incident and likely had been for several months leading up to it.

Seagram also cited Richardson’s history of mental illness going back a decade, and pointed to evidence of Richardson’s erratic behaviour in the weeks leading up to the Argenta incident.

He said Richardson’s actions in the Argenta incident were “inexplicable but for some profound malfunction of his mind.”

All the evidence adds up to Richardson having a delusional belief that the police were hunting him in order to kill him, Seagram said.

As an indicator of his mental state, Seagram cited evidence from the March 22 trial in which Richardson told an Argenta resident that “he was terrified because the police were hunting him down like an animal. He (said) that the police were going to inject him with a number of pharmaceuticals, which he named, and thereby ‘kill off his being.’”

The inability to make a rational choice, Seagram said, can stem from delusions in which a person sees wrong as right.

Seagram said one of the psychiatrists gave Richardson a test designed to identify whether a person is “malingering” his psychiatric symptom, or in other words pretending to be mentally ill. Richardson, Seagram said, got zero out of 25 on the test, indicating his symptoms were genuine.

Richardson’s next step is to appear at a disposition hearing conducted by the B.C. Review Board, which is empowered to decide one of three results: an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge (live in the community but with conditions or restrictions) or custody (detained in hospital).

While waiting for the hearing, which must happen within 45 days, Richardson will remain in custody.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelsey Johnson, the City of Penticton’s manager for parks and recreation, was recognized by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association as an emerging leader for her work. (Submitted)
National recognition for Penticton’s head of parks & rec

Kelsey Johnson was deemed an emerging leader by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association

Coronavirus 3D illustration. (CDC photo)
Two Summerland businesses closed due to COVID-19

The businesses are listed on the Interior Health website

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

Oliver’s Fairview Bridge needs work to remove the lead-based paint, but it may cost the town more than they’re currently willing to pay. (Google Maps)
Oliver bridge work may not happen until 2022

Bids for the project came in over what the town had budgeted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Kelowna OK Tire closed due to COVID-19 exposure

The business will remain closed until May 11

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read