IN THE LEDGE – ‘Why won’t government appeal Schoenborn decision?’

MLA Peter Milobar during Question Period on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.

An exchange in the B.C. Legislature on Monday, Sept. 18 between Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar and Attorney-General David Eby on Allan Schoenborn:

P. Milobar: On Thursday, the B.C. prosecution service announced it would not be pursuing an appeal of the judge’s decision to deny the high-risk designation for Allan Schoenborn — who, we all know, was convicted of first-degree murder after he stabbed his 10-year-old daughter, Kaitlynne, and smothered his sons, Max, who was eight, and Cordon, who was only five years old.

It was hoped that in pursuing the high-risk designation, not only would Schoenborn have been limited in the number of hearings allowed before the B.C. Review Board to once every three years; he would have also lost the right to go on leave in the community. It would spare Darcie Clarke and her family the anguish of having to relive the tragedy on an annual basis at each Review Board hearing.

A simple question to the Attorney General. Will he do the right thing, continue fighting for this family’s right to justice and peace, and order an appeal of the court’s decision?

Hon. D. Eby: Thank you to the member for the question — such a devastating case involving the murder of young children. I think that all of us with kids shudder when we hear these kinds of stories.

The application, as I understand it, was unsuccessful at trial. The criminal justice branch prosecutors did the best they could to advance the case that Mr. Schoenborn should be designated as a high-risk offender under the new federal legislation. They were not successful at trial, and there were findings at trial that were adverse to the possibility of success on appeal.

They made a recommendation to me, in my role as Attorney General, that an appeal would not be in the public interest. I accepted that recommendation of the independent criminal justice service. But I would like to say to the member and to all members of this House that Mr. Schoenborn is in a secure facility. He will not be released. He will not be in the public without the approval of the independent Mental Health Review Board that reviews cases like this — certainly, we’re very glad that they do — and I’m monitoring this case closely. Thank you for the question.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–North Thompson on a supplemental.

P. Milobar: The Attorney General’s answer is somewhat disappointing, because every so often a case does come along and the public demands that the government do what is right and fight to the bitter end for them. Just recently, in May, it was confirmed by a psychiatrist that Allan Schoenborn continues to have serious anger problems. Even worse, he continues to demonstrate violence and was confirmed by doctors and staff during recent hearings to be dangerous and to be a continued threat to others.

So it’s shameful that while the Attorney General is willing to spend money for lawyers to intervene against Kinder Morgan and to cover the legal bills of both the jobs-loss minister and the Premier, he doesn’t have the same drive to stand up for justice and ensure the high-risk designation is appealed. His failure to stand up for public safety and appeal the court’s decision could have far-reaching consequences to other cases across Canada.

Again to the Attorney General: you’ve shown us you’re willing to spend on lawyers for your colleagues and that you’ll intervene on Kinder Morgan. Why will you not intervene in this case and ensure that the case goes to an appeal?

Hon. D. Eby: I thank the member for the question. This is obviously a very emotional case for all of us. I think we want what is best. I don’t think that anybody believes that Mr. Schoenborn should be anywhere in the public, and that is the consensus view of the review board that determines the hearings.

Similarly, I don’t think any of us are happy about the fact that the surviving family members have to go through and endure these kinds of hearings. This is an incredibly difficult situation.

With that said, it is important to recognize that we have an independent criminal justice branch. The deputy minister now is the same as the deputy minister when that government was in power. The recommendation of these very experienced prosecutors, who have no interest in having dangerous offenders on our streets, was very clear that it was not in the public interest to pursue an appeal.

I think that one of the critical roles in this House is that we recognize the federal rules within which we operate and also that when the independent prosecution service that is in place to protect the public interest and the public safety makes a recommendation, it’s treated very seriously by the Attorney General. I certainly did treat it thus, and I share the member’s concern. I thank him for the question.

Source: BC Hansard (Draft).

About Mel Rothenburger (8126 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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