Man who lit woman on fire on TTC bus found not criminally responsible for her death

A judge has ruled Tenzin Norbu was experiencing active psychosis and not criminally responsible for setting a woman on fire on a TTC bus. As Tina Yazdani reports, he will be detained in a hospital setting.

A man who admitted to killing a woman by dousing her with lighter fluid and setting her on fire onboard a TTC bus at Kipling Subway Station in June 2022 has been found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

Tenzin Norbu, 33, of Toronto, was charged with first-degree murder in the shocking death of Nyima Dolma, 28.

The court heard that the two were strangers to each other when Norbu approached her on a bus on June 17 and asked her if she was Tibetan. When she replied “yes” Norbu pulled out a jar of lighter fluid and poured it on Dolma before igniting it.

Dolma ran off the bus engulfed in flames. She died in hospital 18 days later.

Norbu pleaded not guilty and his mental state became the key issue surrounding the trial.

“The only issue to be decided in this trial is whether Mr. Norbu has proven on a balance of probabilities that at the time he killed Ms. Dolma he was not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder,” the judge wrote.

“In this case, it is not suggested that Mr. Norbu lacked the capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of his act but that his mental disorder made him incapable of appreciated that the act was wrong.”

A medical expert testified that Norbu had schizophrenia and was incapable of knowing that his action were morally wrong and had delusions that the Tibetan community hated him.

He also abused alcohol and cannabis which exacerbated his symptoms, Dr. Iosif testified, adding that while his schizophrenia diagnosis was only made recently, he likely suffered from the disorder for years.

In the end, the judge was swayed by the testimony and medical evidence.

“I have concluded based on the undisputed evidence of Dr. Iosif, that Mr. Norbu was not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder when he killed Ms. Dolma,” the judge’s decision reads.

“I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Norbu was actively psychotic at the time that he killed Ms. Dolma. He was unable to distinguish right from wrong as a result of his psychotics symptoms.”

Norbu will be remanded to the Ontario Review Board for an initial disposition hearing no later than 45 days from Tuesday.

The board will ultimately determine the hospital in which he will be detained and what privileges, if any, he will have. Norbu cannot be released unconditionally until the board concludes he is no longer a significant threat to safety of the public.

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