A woman found not criminally responsible for killing a stranger in a Toronto pharmacy has been ordered detained in a mental health hospital because she lacks insight into her crime and remains a significant threat to the public, a board overseeing her case has ruled.
The Ontario Review Board – which decides if and how not criminally responsible patients should be detained – said Rohinie Bisesar considers herself a victim of her schizophrenia and blames the homicide on her illness.
Bisesar appeared before the board for the first time in February following a judge’s ruling in November that she was not criminally responsible for the 2015 death of Rosemarie Junor.
“Ms. Bisesar describes herself as a good person and has a hard time understanding her role in the death of the victim,” the board wrote in a detailed decision released this month.
“Ms. Bisesar considers herself to be ready for discharge to the community at the present time, which represents a combination of limited insight and a grandiose self-appraisal, possibly as a defence mechanism, but nonetheless as an unrealistic appreciation of her circumstances.”
On Dec. 11, 2015, Bisesar was in the throes of a psychotic breakdown with untreated schizophrenia when she walked into a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto’s financial district and stabbed Junor in the heart with a small knife.
Court heard she suffered from severe hallucinations and delusions that manifested as a voice commanding her to harm someone. She refused treatment for years while in custody and only became fit to stand trial in April 2018.
She remains in a secure, six-bed wing at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health where she is in “almost complete remission” of her symptoms, due a strict regime of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy, the board noted.
Her treatment team believes within the next year Bisesar “should achieve a level of stability and insight sufficient for her to be safely managed on a general unit,” with privileges that could include indirectly supervised access to the community.
Her lawyer agreed with that proposal, but the lawyer for the Attorney General of Ontario opposed indirectly supervised access to the community, the board’s decision said.
Her attending psychiatrist and the lawyer for the Attorney General of Ontario noted that “if the hospital is to make a mistake with respect to assessing risk and granting unsupervised access to community, there could be catastrophic consequences.”
The board ordered Bisesar to only enter the community, where she has been attending psychotherapy programs, with hospital staff.
It also said it was concerned about Bisesar applying for jobs in the community while in the secure wing despite the fact she is not allowed off hospital grounds without supervision.
“In spite of ongoing discussions with Ms. Bisesar about setting up realistic goals, both professionally and personally, she continues to send out applications for employment,” the board said.