Black Press file photo

Appeal Court restores privileges for man who killed five at Calgary house party

EDMONTON — The Alberta Court of Appeal has restored some privileges for a mentally ill man who stabbed to death five young people at a Calgary house party seven years ago.

The move clears the way for Matthew de Grood to have overnight passes in Edmonton for up to a week for the purpose of transitioning to a group home.

A provincial mental health review board ruled last September that de Grood was making progress as a patient at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, but he would not be allowed to go to a group home.

It said that de Grood, 29, still posed a “significant threat to the safety of the public.”

His lawyer argued earlier this month that the Alberta Review Board failed to properly consider evidence from his client’s treatment team when it removed the overnight passes, which had previously been granted, and seemed to engage in speculation and dwell on what-ifs.

The Appeal Court agreed.

“We are satisfied that the board’s decision to rescind some of the privileges the board granted Mr. de Grood on September 17, 2019 is not reasonable and is unsupported by the evidence,” wrote Justice Thomas Wakeling in the decision released Monday.

“Nothing happened in the period commencing September 18, 2019 and ending September 7, 2020 that supported the challenged rescission decision. The evidence indicated that Mr. de Grood’s ‘schizophrenia has been in remission since 2015’ and that there are no troubling behaviours.”

The court also noted that de Grood’s treatment team, Alberta Hospital Edmonton or the Crown had not asked the review board to rescind any of his existing privileges.

De Grood appears before the review board annually to assess his treatment and whether he should be allowed any increased privileges or freedoms over the next year.

De Grood was found not criminally responsible in the stabbing deaths of Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Kaitlin Perras, Josh Hunter and Lawrence Hong on April 15, 2014.

A trial heard that the university student arrived at the party, which was being held to mark the end of the school year, believing the devil was talking to him and a war was about to begin that signalled the end of the world.

A judge ruled that de Grood was delusional at the time and did not understand his actions were wrong.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

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