'One's first reaction to the decision is this seems wrong' law prof says of life insurance award
GARDINER MINES, N.S. -- There was mixed reaction Friday to a court ruling by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge.
Justice Frank Edwards awarded 100 per cent of a Cape Breton woman's life insurance policy to the man who killed her.
It's been more than two years since Sarabeth Forbes was killed in her own home.
At the time, her death shocked the rural community of Gardiner Mines, N.S. Now what's even more shocking for some, is that the man who killed her will collect all of Forbes' life-insurance policy.
"One's first reaction to the decision is this seems wrong," says Wayne MacKay, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University's Schulich School of Law. "I think that's what a lot of people feel."
Forbes' boyfriend, Richard Maidment, also known as Richard McNeil, was initially charged with first-degree murder, but later was found not criminally responsible.
Court heard that his mental health was deteriorating days before he killed his common law spouse in April 2017. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2012.
Court documents reveal Maidment will receive more than $200,000 from Forbes life-insurance policy.
"If the contract said, if you killed someone, regardless of whether it's a crime or not, you are disentitled to the insurance, then that would apply," MacKay said. "Because what the judge did in this case is look at the contract and say 'here's what the contract says. If it's a crime or not.'"
According to the court ruling, Forbes mother was caring for the couple's young son and had applied for the life insurance on the boy's behalf, but the insurance policy states Maidment was listed as the policy beneficiary.
Justice Edwards said a person found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder is not to be punished and is instead to be treated with dignity.
MacKay says it all comes down to the wording of the insurance contract.
"It's the letter of the contract and the limit on the judge to do what the law requires, which isn't always what people think would be the fair and appropriate result," MacKay said.
CTV News reached out to both families today, but didn't hear back.