A review panel must now decide the fate of a Red Deer man found not criminally responsible for killing his father.
Former Red Deer city councillor Timothy Bruce Guilbault, 58, died at a family cabin west of Bowden on Nov. 3, 2012 when his son, Aaron Timothy Guilbault, struck him in the back of the head with an aluminium baseball bat.
Aaron was arrested in Stettler two days later on a charge of second-degree murder.
Witnesses in Aaron Guilbault’s trial testified before Justice Monica Bast in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench that the young man had suffered escalating symptoms of schizophrenia, including delusions that he was the son of God and that his father was an evil being who stood between him and the women God had promised to him as soulmates.
In court on Thursday, Bast ruled that Aaron Guilbault, now 33, was suffering the symptoms of his disorder when he killed his father and that he was therefore unable to appreciate the nature of his act or that what he had done was morally wrong.
The fact that he made no effort to flee the scene or hide his crime and that he confessed to a friend later that day support defence counsel Patty MacNaughton’s theory that her client was suffering the effects of his disorder when he killed his father, said Bast.
She ordered that Guilbault be detained under a Criminal Code of Canada provision requiring that a panel be given 45 days to review the facts presented during the trial and then determine a treatment program for him.
The review board has the power to continue to detain and treat Guilbault for as long as deemed necessary, Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard said outside the courtroom.
The tragedy to the Guilbault family and to the greater community as well is underscored by the failure of society and the justice system to deal appropriately with mental illness before the threats become real, said Morris Flewwelling, a retired schoolteacher who has served as a Red Deer city councillor and mayor.
Bast noted in her decision that family members become worried after seeing signs of an evolving and escalating mental disorder in the two years before Aaron’s arrest, including a letter Tim wrote to a Red Deer psychiatrist just five days before his fatal meeting with his son.
She reitereted witness statements concerning Aaron’s failure to recognize his own illness and his refusal to take medications. He had been certified and admitted for treatment on two occasions in the year before killing his father, first to the psychiatric unit at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre late in 2011 and later on to the Alberta Hospital Ponoka.
Unfortunately, there is no mechanism in Canada to deal with people who may become a menace to themselves or others until a criminal act is committed, said Flewwelling.
“It’s all too common, this business of people who have mental demons that are either left unmedicated or the person chooses not to take their medication or they go undiagnosed. We don’t have very effective support systems to see these people through.
“It really grieves me, as a former teacher and counsellor, I mean, we identify these kids in Grade 2, and the longer we leave it the harder it is to correct it in some cases,” said Flewwelling.
He pointed to a recent incident in Moncton, where a father had expressed concerns about his son, but the law’s hands were tied with the result that five police officers were shot and three died of their wounds.
“It’s like the dog gets the first bite, and I’m not sure that serves us well,” said Flewwelling.
While he and Tim Guilbault did not serve together on council, Flewwelling said he did know him and remembers him as a hard working, driven and effective councillor who was still quite young when he started his first term.
Guilbault was first elected to council in 1986 and served three terms, resigning in 1995 to take a new job in Calgary.
“He was just one of the foot soldiers of the city and gave his time and would likely have continued and may have even been mayor, had he stayed in Red Deer,” said Flewwelling.
Members of the Guilbault family who attended court on Thursday declined to comment on the outcome of Aaron’s trial.
Aaron himself appeared unaffected as he listed to the decision from his seat behind the glass in the prisoner’s box.
He wore the same two-tone shirt, bushy beard and stoic expression that he had worn during the days of his trial.