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Man who killed officer with snowplow must stay in secure unit: board

The first-degree murder trial for Richard Kachkar, accused in the death of Toronto Sgt. Ryan Russell, begins on Feb. 4, 2013. CITYNEWS/Marianne Boucher

A review board has ruled that a man who killed a Toronto police officer with a snowplow must stay in the secure unit of a mental health hospital.

Richard Kachkar has been detained in the Ontario Shores mental health hospital in Whitby for about a year, since he was found not criminally responsible for killing Sgt. Ryan Russell.

At his first annual hearing in front of the Ontario Review Board, which decides if and how NCR patients should be detained, Kachkar asked, through his lawyers, to be transferred to a less secure, general forensic unit.

The board issued its decision Wednesday, with reasons to follow later, which orders Kachkar to remain in the secure unit and preserves all of the same conditions Kachkar has had for the past year, including community access.

The board stirred controversy last year following Kachkar’s initial hearing when it allowed him escorted trips into the community and the Crown unsuccessfully appealed that provision.

The hospital didn’t let Kachkar off its grounds while that privilege was under appeal, but it revealed at the first of Kachkar’s annual hearings last week that since the appeal was dismissed he has been escorted by staff three times to a local plaza.

Kachkar’s attending psychiatrist told the hearing that the medical team felt Kachkar isn’t ready to move to the general forensic unit, where the ratio of staff to patients is lower.

Dr. Zohar Waisman told the board he still does not have a definitive diagnosis for Kachkar, other than he falls somewhere in the spectrum of psychosis.

It is difficult to assess Kachkar’s future risk because those predictions are harder with more serious offences, he said. Kachkar does appear to be responding to his anti-psychotic medication, but he has only been on it since September, which is not a very long time for someone with such a complex history, Waisman said.

Kachkar has completed various programs at the hospital, such as behavioural therapy, and is on the waiting list for another, Waisman said. He is compliant with his medication and has one-on-one therapy once a week. Kachkar also volunteers for one hour a week both at a shop and a video store at the hospital.