A Cape Breton man who was found not criminally responsible for the murder of his common-law partner almost two years ago has been granted more freedom -- including the right to visit the island again.

Nova Scotia's Criminal Code Review Board handed down that decision Tuesday, and it's not sitting well with relatives of the victim, who say they'll launch a petition in the name of public safety.

John Fraser and Kim Murphy made the four-and-a-half-hour trek from Cape Breton to Dartmouth to attend the Criminal Code Review Board meeting Tuesday afternoon. Fraser's cousin, Sarabeth Forbes, lost her life at the hands of her partner.

“He is such a very dangerous man, and he should be kept up here until he is treated properly,” Murphy said.

There was shock and heartache in Gardiner Mines, N.S., as news of the murder spread in April 2017.

After a number of hearings, and reports from two psychiatrists, Richard MacNeil was found “not criminally responsible” in December of that year.

Court was told he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2012.

Housed at the East Coast Forensic Hospital since the murder, MacNeil has seen his privileges and freedoms gradually increase, and experts testified Tuesday that he was ready to start travelling home to Cape Breton spend time with his family there.

The board agreed.

“People in this hospital are treated, their illnesses brought under control, and then the emphasis is on getting them back into the community,” said Peter Lederman, chair of the Nova Scotia Criminal Code Review Board.

But that doesn't sit well with Murphy.

“Fourteen months?” she said. “I could break a hip and it takes longer to heal.”

Furious, the family has now vowed to launch a petition to convince the board to reverse the decision.

It’s a matter of “public safety,” they told the board.

“The minute somebody walks up to Richie MacNeil and says something to him that he doesn't like, he's going to react,” Murphy said. “I fear for everybody in Cape Breton right now. I'm just ... very fearful.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.