COLUMN: Sanity of the justice system is in question

On Sunday, April 6, 2008, Darcie Clarke returned to her Merritt trailerhome after a weekend away, and found the cold bodies of her children.

Max, aged eight, and Cordon, five, were curled up on a couch. They had been suffocated. Kaitlynn, 10, was in her bedroom wrapped in her favourite blanket. She had been stabbed to death.

Their father, Allan Schoenborn, who had been looking after the youngsters, was gone.

Ten days later, after an extensive police hunt, he was found hiding in the bush by a man walking his dogs.

Schoenborn said he had killed his kids, and wanted to know if his wife had committed suicide.

The murders occurred the day after Clarke told her husband their marriage was over.

During the first-degree murder trial that followed, the defence maintained that Schoenborn, suffering a mental disorder, believed the children were being molested – unclear as to by whom – and that he had killed them to save them from further abuse.

Yet, there was no evidence to support such a belief, nor that Schoenborn had ever told authorities about it.

He had never been diagnosed with a mental illness.

The Crown’s theory was that the man killed his children, and posed their bodies, to punish his wife in the most excrutiating fashion possible.

The B.C. Supreme Court judge found Schoenborn guilty of murder, but not criminally responsible due to his mental condition.

He was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, where his mental status is reviewed each year.

Last week, hardly a year after his trial, Schoenborn appeared before a review panel with his lawyer,  to request “community access.”

It’s time he was allowed out on escorted day trips, he maintained, “to go to the mall for coffee,” and maybe take a swim at the public pool.

If Schoenborn really is out of his mind, he’s not alone.

The review board actually granted Schoenborn’s request, at the discretion of the clinical director of the hospital.

Now that’s nuts.

And then, as the public howls of outrage reached a crescendo, we learned that Darcie Clark is now living in Coquitlam.

Who knew? Not the review panel, apparently.

The revelation prompted Attorney General Barry Penner to announce that officials will reconsider the decision.

Among all of the recent offensive abuses of the criminal justice system, this one has to rank at the top.

This case is so wrong, in so many ways.

The mental disorder defence should have been discarded like the BS it was.

Schoenborn should be sitting in a maximum security cell until he dies. In fact, evil creatures like him are fine justification for a fatal injection.

Instead, he lounges in a hospital, which has a review board that actually will consider such a monster’s request to lark about the community – in which his ex-wife lives!

The experts weren’t aware of the latter, they said. And that’s so wrong, too.

Wouldn’t her whereabouts be a critical factor in any such decision?

Penner needs to do more than order these officials to reconsider their appalling decision. They should all be sacked.

The entire “review” process needs to be gutted of its touchy-feely PC tripe, and brought to focus on what really matters – like public safety, victims’ rights, and some justice for three dead little kids.

For twisted freaks like Schoenborn, there should be no review at all.

His sanity is a moot point. The justice system, on the other hand…

Andrew Holota is the editor of The Abbotsford News.



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