Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Family had been trying for months to get teen murder suspect psychiatric help

An article published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Steve Bruce, Court Reporter

The family of a 17-year-old Middle Sackville boy charged with murdering a woman last Friday had been trying to get him psychiatric help for months, The Chronicle Herald has learned.

They had finally managed to get him an appointment for a psychiatric assessment at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax [pictured] on Monday, sources close to the family said.

But something allegedly went horribly wrong before the boy could be assessed.

Last Friday at about 12:15 p.m., RCMP found the body of Joyann Wright, 49, in her home on Hewer Crescent in Middle Sackville.

Police haven’t released the cause of death, but sources say Wright was stabbed and that the boy tried to kill himself after he fled the scene in her vehicle.

The teenager, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was naked when he was arrested on a Lower Sackville street.

Police believe he was involved in a string of motor vehicle collisions after the killing.

A Saturn Astra owned by the victim crashed into a postal van on Rossing Drive, about 50 metres from Hewer Crescent. The vehicle also crashed into the back of a dump truck that was parked on Millwood Drive.

Then the boy was involved in a minor car-pedestrian accident on Sackville Drive after apparently throwing himself in front of a vehicle.

He received treatment for his physical injuries at the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville before he was transferred to the mental health unit at the IWK.

The boy wasn’t able to make it to Halifax youth court Monday morning from the hospital.

Defence lawyer Stan MacDonald appeared in court on the boy’s behalf.

Judge Pam Williams granted MacDonald’s request to have the matter adjourned until Friday.

The teenager will remain in custody at the IWK.

A Crown attorney will be brought in from Sydney to prosecute the case, court was told.

MacDonald refused to comment on his client’s mental health history when contacted by this newspaper Monday afternoon.

Outside court earlier in the day, the boy’s lawyer said the IWK unit "is the appropriate place for him right now."

"At this point, what I would like to say is to convey that his family is very appreciative of how the police dealt with the matter and very appreciative of the treatment that he received at the Cobequid centre and at the IWK," MacDonald told reporters.

The boy has one conviction for theft. He pleaded guilty in January and is due to be sentenced in April.


Also see:

System is in chaos, mental health advocates say

Three cheers for outspoken health bureaucrat

Mental Health Advocate (IWK Health Centre)

Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team (PDF)

Photograph of the IWK Health Centre courtesy of the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University.

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