Psychiatric assessment delayed for murder suspect
HALIFAX - The East Coast Forensic Hospital says it is unable to assess the man accused of brutally beating a man to death outside of a Halifax bar.
Andre Denny appeared calm when he showed up for court today, with his legs shackled and his arms folded. He listened intently to Crown attorney Denise Smith as she asked the judge to appoint an independent psychiatrist to assess whether Denny is mentally fit to stand trial.
The judge had previously ordered Denny to undergo a psychiatric assessment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, but now his case is being sent out of province.
"Most of the forensic psychiatrists have an association to the facility in our province that is charged with that responsibility, so in order to be considered truly independent, we would have to go outside of Nova Scotia," says Smith.
Denny was a patient at the hospital when he was charged with second-degree murder after 49-year-old Raymond Taavel was beaten to death outside Menz Bar on Gottingen Street in April.
He was out on an unescorted one-hour pass but failed to return to the facility that night. Police searched for Denny but were unable to locate him right away.
He was arrested hours later, after Taavel was killed.
Capital Health refused an interview, but provided text from a letter sent to a judge on April 26.
In it, Dr. Aileen Brunet says:
"The circumstances leading to the charge are the subject of a Capital District Health Authority review as well as a joint government-CDHA review. These will also involve psychiatrists from this facility. Therefore it is my position that it would be inappropriate for a psychiatrist from this service to conduct the assessment of Mr. Denny."
The court has instead appointed a doctor from Toronto to complete the assessment. Smith says Dr. Hy Bloom has extensive expertise in the required areas.
"Of course we have a clock ticking in terms of getting an assessment done," she says. "Dr. Bloom is a psychiatrist that our service is familiar with."
The time for the assessment has been extended to 60 days, which is the maximum time allowed.
Denny is due to appear in court again on June 18.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell