Man Found Not Criminally Responsible for Beheading Fellow Bus Passenger Seeks Absolute Discharge

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, was originally found not criminally responsible (i.e.: “NCR”) for the murder of Tim McLean, whom he had decapitated and cannibalized on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba in 2008.

Mr. Baker has now asked the Criminal Code Review Board for an absolute discharge. If granted, there will be no conditions placed on his freedom, and no legal requirement to obtain treatment for his mental illness.

Absolute Discharges

In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada found that individuals who have been found to be not criminally responsible for their crimes must be granted an absolute discharge if they do not pose a “significant threat to public safety”.

Mr. Baker’s Current Situation

Following the murder, Mr. Baker was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and initially housed in a secure psychiatric facility in Selkirk, Manitoba. Over the last several years, he has been gradually granted more freedoms.

Mr. Baker began living on his own in 2016; however, a pharmacy employee continues to ensure that he takes his medications daily.

The Criminal Code Review Board

Under the Criminal Code, a Review Board must be established in each province to make or review decisions concerning any individual who has received a verdict of not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. The Boards are generally made up of judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and members of the public who are al appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.

The mother of Mr. Baker’s victim told the Review Board reviewing Mr. Baker’s status that she is concerned about public safety should he be granted the discharge, and informed the Review Board that in her opinion, he should remain in a facility and never be “completely free”.

Crown Attorney Mary Goska likewise argued that an absolute discharge would be too great of a risk to the general public, telling the Board that “it’s clear that [Mr. Baker] can be dangerous in certain circumstances”.

A doctor who has treated Mr. Baker told the Review Board that while it had taken more than a year for Mr. Baker’s symptoms to “resolve completely” he is now at a “low risk”, as he understands that his medication keeps his illness under control. The doctor did admit that there is a risk of relapse if Mr. Baker was to stay off his medication for a prolonged period of time, and recommended that Mr. Baker always continue to see a psychiatrist.  According to the doctor, Mr. Baker plans to remain in Winnipeg for several years, but ultimately wants to visit China, his native country.

The Review Board is expected to make a decision with respect to the absolute discharge shortly. We will continue to follow developments in this matter and will update our readers once more information becomes available.

If you have questions about absolute discharges, a finding of NCR, or the Review Board process, contact the skilled Oshawa defense lawyers at Affleck Barrison online or at 905 404 1947. For your convenience, we offer 24-hour phone services and a free confidential consultation. We are available when you need us most.