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Hearing for B.C. child killer Schoenborn ‘off the rails’ as lawyer bows out

Schoenborn has been held in a psychiatric hospital since 2010, after killing his 3 children
Allan Schoenborn is shown in this sketch attending a British Columbia Review Board in Coquitlam, B.C. on Thursday March 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Felicity Don

A hearing for Allan Schoenborn, who killed his three children in 2008, ended with an abrupt adjournment on Wednesday after his lawyer told the British Columbia Review Board he would no longer appear in front of its current panel.

Lawyer Rishi Gill said in an interview that he continues to represent Schoenborn, who was found not criminally responsible for the killings. But his client will need new counsel before the board, which is set to reschedule the hearing.

Gill said he didn’t make the decision lightly. It came after “commentary” from the chair of the review board that he felt was inappropriate, he said.

The chair rejected his request for a brief adjournment, Gill said, and he decided he would no longer continue.

“I didn’t feel that it would best serve Mr. Schoenborn’s interests for me to continue on, given some of the comments that were going back and forth,” he said.

“Would I act for him again next year or (in front of) a different board? Perhaps.”

Schoenborn has been held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., since 2010, after killing his 10-year-old daughter and two sons, aged five and eight.

He was diagnosed with delusional disorder and told his B.C. Supreme Court trial he killed his children to protect them from an imagined threat of sexual abuse.

In 2022, the review board granted the director of the psychiatric hospital the discretion to allow Schoenborn up to 28 days of overnight leave. He is barred from possessing any weapons and using any non-approved drugs or alcohol, and he must not have contact with the family members of the slain children.

Gill said his client wasn’t seeking changes to his current privileges on Wednesday.

Dave Teixeira, a spokesman for the children’s family, said the hearing “went off the rails” after the chair of the review board asked a witness from the hospital whether Schoenborn is a danger to children, and the witness said yes.

The remark prompted an “outburst” from Schoenborn, said Teixeira, who attended the hearing via livestream.

Gill felt the board wasn’t treating his client fairly, Teixeira said.

He said the board chair also noted while listening to the testimony that Schoenborn had been involved in at least a dozen aggressive incidents with staff and other patients, information that wasn’t included in a hospital report.

The victims’ family members have “always wanted” Schoenborn’s privileges to be revoked, Teixeira added.

“I’m hoping that (the review board) will revoke his privileges so that Schoenborn can focus on getting better, as opposed to getting out.”

The day before the hearing, the board had rejected an application from Schoenborn to have his new legal name redacted from the board’s decisions. Schoenborn has changed his name, and the new name hasn’t been made public, Gill said.

A review board document shows Schoenborn had also asked that his new name not be published in any legal proceeding without approval from the board.

The document dated April 16 shows the board denied the application, though it said he should be called Allan Schoenborn at Wednesday’s hearing.

Anyone seeking to challenge the decision should notify the board by the end of this month, the document states. If the board doesn’t hear from anyone, its dispositions related to Schoenborn are set to include both his current and former legal name.

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