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Man who killed Toronto cop with snowplow getting treatment: doctors

A man who was found not criminally responsible for killing a Toronto police officer with a snowplow has not shown any active psychosis since he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, his doctors say.

Richard Kachkar has been “fully compliant” with treatment and medication since he was detained in April 2013 in the Ontario Shores facility in Whitby, his doctors report.

Lawyers for Kachkar filed the doctors’ evidence in support of a decision by the Ontario Review Board to allow Kachkar to take escorted trips into the community.

The Crown is appealing that decision, arguing the board made a mistake by granting Kachkar the privilege.

Kachkar’s lawyer and the Crown appeared before the board last year with a joint recommendation for where Kachkar should be treated and what privileges he should be granted, including walking the grounds of the hospital while escorted.

The board went a step further than the joint recommendation and said Kachkar should also be able to enter the community while escorted. The Crown’s appeal is set to be heard Monday at Ontario’s Appeal Court.

The hospital appears to have not yet allowed Kachkar into the community, as his lawyers say he has been granted “off-ward” privileges more than 100 times, though all within hospital property.

Kachkar was found not criminally responsible last year in the January 2011 death of Sgt. Ryan Russell, 35, who was killed when Kachkar hit him with a stolen snowplow.

The verdict means the jury believed the expert testimony of three psychiatrists that Kachkar’s psychosis rendered him unable to appreciate what he was doing.

Once someone is found not criminally responsible a provincial review board manages their case and decides what level of supervision they need, ordering them detained in a hospital or releasing them either with or without conditions.

Absolute discharges are not granted until the board is satisfied the person no longer poses a significant threat to public safety.

Kachkar still poses a significant threat, the board said in reasons, but letting him go into the community on an escorted basis, if the hospital feels it’s appropriate, does not pose such a threat, it said.

Review boards are supposed to balance public safety and the least onerous restrictions on the person found not criminally responsible — which Kachkar’s lawyers Peter Copeland and Indira Stewart argue this decision does.

They have filed with the court an affidavit from Dr. Karen DeFreitas, who was Kachkar’s attending psychiatrist from April until July, when another doctor took over, and she says the board’s decision fits with Kachkar’s current condition.

“The respondent has been clinically stable throughout his time at Ontario Shores and has not displayed any symptoms of active psychosis,” Kachkar’s lawyers write in summarizing DeFreitas’ evidence.

“While at Ontario Shores, the respondent has exhibited both remorse regarding the index offence and ‘good insight and judgment into his current situation and the need to comply with treatment.'”

The hospital has taken a “very cautious approach” because of the seriousness of what Kachkar did, but has allowed him off of his secure forensic unit, while escorted, to attend therapy and programs and take walks on the grounds, DeFreitas reports.

Between July and October this happened 131 times, according to DeFreitas, who also discussed Kachkar’s progress with his new doctor. Kachkar has also been escorted to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto three times for treatment of injuries he got during his arrest.

Kachkar is usually escorted by two or more staff members, though six times within the hospital he was accompanied by only one staffer, DeFreitas reports.

The Crown is arguing that it was a mistake for the review board to not only stray from the joint submission, but to do so without telling the lawyers it was considering that so both sides could have an opportunity to make arguments.