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Review says their job is public protection, not punishment

According to a decision by the Sask. Review Board last Friday, controversial Saskatchewan Hospital resident Layne Larose is about to be moved out of the hospital and into an approved home in North Battleford or Battleford.

According to a decision by the Sask. Review Board last Friday, controversial Saskatchewan Hospital resident Layne Larose is about to be moved out of the hospital and into an approved home in North Battleford or Battleford.

The decision comes from the Saskatchewan Review Board following an application for release at a hearing last October.

Justice Peter Foley, chair of the Sask. Review Board, wrote in the board's decision that Larose represents a continuing risk to the community, but that risk is small.

"He is now ready to participate in the community and take his place as one of its productive members," Foley wrote.

The decision draws attention to the fact that, under the sections of Canada's Criminal Code that govern the Saskatchewan Review Board, "a person who is found not criminally responsible may be confined only for reasons of public protection not punishment."

A board hearing will be scheduled when an appropriate home has been located and conditions of Larose's release will be set at that time.

It's been nine years since David Kennedy and Hughie Sayers of North Battleford were murdered by Larose, who attacked them with an axe, then set fire to the house where they were killed.

Larose, now 48, was found not criminally responsible for their deaths on account of a mental disorder. Shortly after the murder, chief psychologist Dr. R.J. Brown concluded Larose had an "anti-social personality disorder which, combined with cannabis and alcohol dependence led in part to his not sharing the social and moral stands of the community."

He has been residing at Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford since March of 2008, having been transferred from the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.

At the October 2010 review, from which the recently released decision rises, chief psychologist Dr. R.J. Brown's report stated, "I am not opposed to the Team recommendation that Mr. Larose be discharged conditionally into the community but I have drawn the Board's attention to a concern."

Based on a table of risk factors associated with Larose's history, which showed a tendency to be expedient with rules and safety guides, and continuing to display antisocial personality disorder, Brown said Larose's "dynamic risks are very well-managed."

Brown said his misgivings about Larose living in the community were based more on his attitude, an expediency with rules and conditions that is a personal trait, than his mental health.

He said, "The Team has outlined a prudent set of checks and balances that highlight my concerns. The recommendation includes an approved home setting that will supervise and monitor him daily."

Brown also addressed the affects of Larose's reintegration into the community and how it impacts the victim's family and friends.

"Although the community has raised objections to his reintegration, that is not a measure of his risk; it is a measure of the community concern," he said.

"Mr. Larose's offences were very high profile in this community and have been the subject of considerable press. Members of the family and community have demonstrated against his increasing freedom. With Mr. Larose's consent, we took the unprecedented step of inviting pack community/family members of the deceased to join his Clinical Team for discussions about his progress and recommendations to the Board. Mr. Larose's offences caused great tragedy and resentment in the families. Our intention in including a community/family member in our discussions was to help us understand better the concerns in the community about Mr. Larose so that we could provide better treatment and make better recommendations to the Board and to give the community access to and understanding the legal process Mr. Larose is in"

He indicated the idea that Larose is faking being well is a non-issue.

"Speculation from the community has been that he is 'faking it.' However that is not the case. Firstly it is much easier to face a mental illness when you are mentally well than it is to face being mentally well when you are mentally ill. Secondly, observation and direct examination shown evidence of any hallucinations or any delusions."

Monitoring has also shown Larose to be taking his medication regularly and displaying little in the way of negative symptoms usually associated with mental disorder, said Brown.

Regarding Larose's incidents of "breaking or shaving the edit off the rules,"

Brown said, "It is a trait for him to be expedient with rules, and it has been that way since long before the event that brought him here."

In May 2009, the board was asked to allow unsupervised visits into the community by Larose, and these visits were allowed as long as a series of conditions were met.

Brown pointed out, "My concern heightened when we found that he was in the community without his mother's supervision, although that supervision was a condition of him being in the community. I was concerned that what would put the community at risk. I was concerned that it might not be possible to safely mange his risks if he were in the community. I was also concerned that his mother allowed him to go unsupervised, even though she knew that she had taken him from the Hospital on the condition that she supervise him."

(As a result, Larose's leaves were discontinued until complete compliance was in place.)

Brown concluded, however, that he saw Larose as having learned he has a serious mental disorder and that he meed treatment including medication.

"The safeguard are put in place to keep him well and, in turn, to protect the community. The Board is well aware of the slippery slope that can occur on the way to relapse."

In his decision, Foley said Larose's success in the community "will be assisted by his close proximity to the Hospital and the treatment team who he knows and trusts and who in turn know him well."

He wrote, "All these circumstances support this Board's decision that Mr. Larose's discharge into the community of the Battlefords under the control of this Board is a reasonable step consistent with the societal goal of rehabilitation of patients with mental disease and the provisions of the Criminal Code."

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