Mr. Chairman, and members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, my name is Ben Bedarf. I am here today to give you my opinion of proposed new legislation, and answer any questions you have.
I am a victim. My seven-year-old grandson was violently killed by his father with a knife on July 27, 2011. My daughter tried to stop him and in the process was badly cut up on both hands and forearms.
We received a call from the Campbell River Hospital at about 3 a.m. to come to the hospital. Nothing else was said and no information was given. As we drove past our daughter's house, which we also own, we noticed a considerable RCMP presence. We stopped and asked what had happened. No information was given to us except to go to the hospital.
On our arrival at the hospital emergency ward we were guided into the room where my daughter was being stitched up. Upon seeing me she said, “I'm sorry, Dad, I tried to stop him.” I gave her a hug and told the doctor to finish stitching her up. I then asked, “Where is my grandson?”, the joy of my life. Nobody said anything. Then I saw a nurse going by and I asked her, “Where is my grandson?”, and she said, “I'm sorry, he did not make it”, and she walked away. There was nobody in the hospital to turn to: no victims services, no victims counsellor, no priest, no help of any kind.
The doctor then appeared and said that we could take our daughter home. He gave her a couple of pain pills and a few prescriptions for pain and anti-depressants, and said goodbye.
Because this accident happened while my daughter was sleeping, she had on only a nightgown, which was soaked in blood. The hospital gave my daughter a clean gown and discharged her from the hospital. She had no shoes; only plastic slip-on covers were supplied. I had to take off my own coat so she could have something to wear going home.
Upon leaving, I asked to see my grandson's body, but was refused.
The next day we had to take our daughter shopping for clothing and toiletries. We couldn't go into her house and get any supplies because of forensics. The RCMP said that the house could not be entered until forensic services were done, which would take about four days. If it weren't for us, she wouldn't have had anywhere to go.
Forensics completed their work, and we were given approval to enter the house, but we were told not to go there until restoration services were called and had the house cleaned up and repainted because of the extreme severity of the blood splatter. Most everything in the house was disposed of, leaving the house completely empty of all furniture and of all clothing.
The next day RCMP victim services contacted us. This was vital because this gave us information on facts. The RCMP, because they are first responders, should be able to give all immediately needed assistance to secure the victim, including financial help through their victim assistance program.
Mr. Brent Warren was charged with first degree murder. He was found not guilty by reason of a mental disorder.
The situation now is that he is no longer in the criminal system but is a patient in a mental hospital and will be discharged when he gets better. This is in the opinion of the psychiatric board. The issue has gone from if he gets released to when he will be released. According to some learned professionals in that field, it could be as soon as two to five years.
So where do we go from here?
I recommend immediate funding for victims for expenses incurred and secure shelter supplied; access to the bank account in case the account is only in the spouse's name; immediate funding, in some cases, for travel to their parents' and/or grandparents' home, even if the family lives out of the province. There should be a fund available for long-term assistance for people in need, either through employment insurance, the Canada pension plan, disability insurance, or any fund that is appropriate for the long-term survival of the victim and possibly children, including teenagers.
Crown counsel should proceed in a timely fashion and not drag the case on, which could result in more anguish for the victims and their families.
In my opinion, when he is released, charges should be laid for injuries incurred by my daughter. None was filed. There should not be an expiry date for criminal charges under this scenario. There should be a minimum sentence of 10 years spent in custody in a mental hospital or any institution deemed necessary for anyone who has committed murder and was found not guilty by reason of a mental disorder.
There should be a do-not-contact order for anyone, if so requested. He should not be released in the province where the violent act occurred. I do not wish to meet him face to face on my daily walks. He knows what would happen.
I've submitted this for your consideration on June 10, 2013.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.