A Canadian man who killed, decapitated and partially consumed the flesh of a fellow Greyhound passenger during a 2008 bus ride was granted an absolute discharge Friday, effectively reestablishing his freedom following several years of treatment at a Manitoba mental heath facility.
The Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board agreed Friday to discharge Will Lee Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, after a review board determined he was not a threat to public safety.
Baker stabbed and beheaded Tim McLean, a 22-year-old carnival barker, during a July 30, 2008 bus ride in Manitoba. Passengers later recalled fleeing the vehicle and watching from outside as Baker manipulated McLean’s body and consumed some of his remains.
Baker was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his arrest and ultimately found not criminally responsible for the killing on account of his disorder. He spent seven years afterwards being treated at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in Manitoba, and was allowed to leave the facility last November. He spent the intervening months residing on his own at a Winnipeg apartment while being treated at the Health Sciences Centre, one of the nation’s largest hospitals, but was still subject to routine monitoring and restrictions prior to Friday’s ruling.
In justifying their decision, the review board said “the weight of evidence” provided by mental health professionals who reviewed Baker’s case concluded he isn’t a threat to public safety.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that an absolute discharge is the only remedy if an individual is determined to no longer pose a significant risk.
“His probability is quite low and I do have faith in his treatment team that he was thoroughly assessed and that they’re confident that he doesn’t pose a significant risk,” Canadian Mental Health Association spokesperson Marc Henick told CTV on Saturday.
“He is no longer a violent person,” added Schizophrenia Society of Canada CEO Chris Summerville, a mental health professional who worked with Baker for roughly five years. “I will say, yes, he absolutely understands that he has to (take his medication) and has a desire to live a responsible, moral life and never succumb to psychotic episodes and not to hurt anybody ever again,” he told Canadian Press.
McLean’s mother, Carol de Delley, had been adamantly opposed to Baker’s release prior to Friday decision. Weighing in on Facebook on Friday, she posted: “I have no comment today. I have no words.”