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Mental health review board to decide disposition for Robert Park

Robert Park is seen in provincial court in Corner Brook on Monday.
Robert Park is seen in provincial court in Corner Brook on Monday.

Nearly six months after he held police at bay for more than two day, a McIvers man has been declared not criminally responsible for his actions.

And what will happen next to Robert Park is now in the hands of a federal mental health review board.

Park, 32, had been scheduled to stand trial in provincial court in Corner Brook on 11 charges stemming from the incident, which began on Feb. 21.

However, Crown attorney Brenda Duffy and defence lawyer Gary Kearney told Judge Catherine Allen-Westby that they would instead be presenting a joint submission asking the court to make a finding that Park was not criminally responsible for his actions due to a mental disorder.

The charges against Park include assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, three counts of possession of firearm authorized for members of the Forces, peace officers, three counts of improper firearm storage and a breach of a recognizance.

They were laid on Feb. 22 at the end of standoff with police that lasted nearly 28 hours.

The incident began at 1:17 p.m. on Feb. 21 when a man contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police claiming Park had assaulted him with an axe.

When police went to Park’s residence they found that Park had barricaded himself inside. They knew he owned firearms and reinforcements were brought in. For the rest of that day and well into the next the RCMP established a large presence around Park’s. Homes in the area of Park’s were evacuated and officers attempted to negotiate with Park. At some point he threatened to cause death or bodily harm to some of the police officers.

The standoff ended after Park spoke with a lawyer and agreed to leave the house.

After hearing the facts and reviewing a report by Dr. Jasbir Gill, a forensic psychiatrist with Western Health, Allen-Westby agreed with the request.

Gill then testified to the contents of her report via videoconference from the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s as the defence argued the court should decide on disposition for Park and the Crown argued for the matter to be sent to a mental health review.

In her testimony, Gill said she felt the matter should go to the review board and that an assessment of Park’s risk be completed beforehand.

Gill has been involved in Park’s primary care since his remand to the Waterford following his arrest and diagnosed him with schizophrenia. She said he suffers from delusions and the medication is on is making some difference in his condition.

However, Gill said she had concerns that Park would become non-compliant with taking his medications if he was not supervised.

She also believes he still poses a threat to public safety, and expressed concern that if he was released with no good plan for follow-up that he could quickly relapse.

Allen-Westby agreed the matter should go to the mental health review board and that a full assessment of Park should be completed before that.

Gill said an assessment could be completed in 30 days.

Once a ruling it made to go to the mental health review board the board must hold a hearing within 45 days.

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