Abbotsford man declared not criminally responsible for standoff

Justin Korelus was suffering from "delusional beliefs" at time of standoff, court hears

Police officers respond to a standoff in June.

An Abbotsford man who fired more than 20 rounds from a rifle during a four-hour standoff with police in June has been found not criminally responsible for his actions.

Justin Korelus, 24, admitted to holing up in a bedroom in his mother’s townhouse with several guns, threatening to kill anyone who entered his room, and firing rounds indiscriminately into walls and out the window of the home.

No one was injured, but three other townhouses in the complex were struck by gunfire, and bullets were found in a living room, a bathroom and a child’s bedroom closet.

Korelus faced seven charges, including assault with a weapon, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm dangerous to the public, intentional discharge of a firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm and two counts of uttering threats.

In November, Judge W.G. MacDonald ordered Korelus to undergo an assessment. On Thursday, with the evaluation complete, he was back in court.

In the report, Korelus was described as suffering from “delusional beliefs” at the time of the offence, according to Crown counsel Ross MacLeod.

While a specific diagnosis has not been made, the report said Korelus clearly suffered from an underlying psychotic disorder.

Neither Crown nor the defence took issue with the report, leaving MacDonald to declare Korelus not guilty because he was not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

“The conclusion by the psychologist is that the accused did not understand at the time that the acts he undertook were legally and morally wrong,” MacDonald said.

The ruling doesn’t mean that Korelus, who has been held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital since his arrest, will go free.

Instead, he will remain at the hospital until such time as the British Columbia Review Board decides he no longer poses a risk to the public.

If an accused is found to pose no “significant risk,” he or she must be set free. If there is a risk, the board can either order the person detained or issue a conditional discharge, in which the person can live in the community subject to restrictions.

Despite the not-guilty finding, Korelus was handed a five-year firearms prohibition.

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