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Assessment delays in Taavel murder case

Psychological review of Andre Noel Denny postponed again

Credit: Randall Perry
The results of a psychological assessment of the man charged with the murder of gay activist Raymond Taavel have been delayed once again and will not be released until Nov 26.
Andre Noel Denny, a patient at Halifax’s East Coast Forensic Hospital, was charged with second-degree murder following the murder of Taavel outside Menz Bar on April 17.
An initial 30-day psychiatric assessment of Denny, who is schizophrenic, was previously extended in June, when an Ontario psychiatrist took over the case.
Denny had been granted a one-hour pass to leave ECFH on April 16 but did not return at the scheduled time. The facility grants such leave as part of its rehabilitation process. Denny was placed in the hospital after he was found not criminally responsible on a previous charge of assault causing bodily harm.
Meanwhile, the findings of a joint review into the incident by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, along with the Department of Justice and the Capital Health District Health Authority (CDHA), were released Sept 18.
Nova Scotia’s health minister promised to act on the review’s 18 recommendations, which included ending the practice of allowing unescorted community-access passes until a hearing has been held before the Criminal Code Review Board.
The review found several other “significant gaps” and noted that “the bar must be set higher” in the implementation of policies and practices.
“Ensuring the public’s safety while supporting patients’ treatment and rehabilitation is the primary goal,” said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson. “We listened to the independent experts and agree there are improvements to Nova Scotia’s forensic healthcare system that can, and will, be made. We must set the bar higher.”
The report found that ECFH patients have often been given leave passes to smoke because smoking is prohibited on hospital grounds. It recommended that CDHA provide on-site smoking facilities.
The report also asks CDHA to suspend patient leave privileges after an absence-without-leave incident “until the appropriateness of community access is reviewed.”
Denny’s mother, Janice Denny Paul, told media Sept 20 that her son is innocent. She says he should not have been granted permission to leave the hospital on April 16.
“I will not stop at getting justice for my son,” she said. “We love him; we want him home.”