Loading articles...

Court hears appeal of hospital privileges for snowplow cop killer

Richard Kachkar, right, with his defence lawyer, Bob Richardson, left, and Christine McGoey, Crown lawyer, and Justice Ian MacDonnell in a Toronto court on Feb. 4, 2013. CITYNEWS/Marianne Boucher

A lawyer for the Ontario government says the public was put at “undue risk” when a review board granted community privileges to a man who killed a Toronto police officer with a snowplow.

The Crown argues that the Ontario Review Board made a mistake by ruling that hospital staff were allowed to escort Richard Kachkar on trips into the community of Whitby.

Kachkar was found not criminally responsible (NCR) for killing Sgt. Ryan Russell and has been detained since the verdict last year at the psychiatric hospital Ontario Shores.

Crown attorney Eric Siebenmorgen says doctors can’t agree on a specific diagnosis for Kachkar, so not enough is known about his condition and what triggered his psychotic break to be able to manage his risk in the community.

Siebenmorgen says if there was an altercation during an outing, hospital staff wouldn’t be allowed to physically intervene and they would have to call police, which would again put Kachkar in conflict with an officer.

Kachkar’s lawyer says the psychotic break that led to the death of Russell didn’t come out of nowhere, rather he appeared to unravel over about two weeks, so hospital staff would be able to assess his condition before any outing.

Kachkar’s doctors say he has not shown any active psychosis since he was detained and he has been fully compliant with treatment and medication.

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

The Crown is not appealing the not criminally responsible verdict, rather the review board’s decision about Kachkar’s hospital privileges.

NCR patients are subject to annual reviews, at which review board members hear evidence from doctors and assess whether they should be granted more privileges, have some revoked or, ultimately, grant the person an absolute discharge.

Kachkar’s next review is scheduled for April 22.