|Bus Beheading victim Tim McLean. (Handout)
The federal government wants to see lengthier sentences for mentally-ill offenders found not criminally responsible — and the mother of the young man who was beheaded by Vince Li on board a Greyhound bus in July 2008 says they are taking the right approach.
Carol de Delley has been calling for changes to the way mentally-ill offenders are treated since her son's schizophrenic killer was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder and sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
Such offenders have annual reviews before the Criminal Code Review Board to assess their eligibility for day passes or release.
On Thursday, Justice Minister James Moore announced the government is planning to make reforms that would make the system less onerous on victims' families, with longer periods between reviews, and new designations for people found not criminally responsible.
Vince Li. (QMI Agency File)
The announcement, de Delley said, shows her calls for change have been heard.
"The fact that the government has heard that and is recognizing that they need to do something differently is huge to me. It's what I was asking for," she said. "And I couldn't believe this was the way things were and it hadn't been contested before."
The current system simply doesn't work, she said.
"The more that I found out about what (not criminally responsible) involved, the more horrified I became each step along the way, and I'm very relieved that they're acknowledging that something needs to be done," she said.
The Manitoba Schizophrenia Society (MSS) says the current review board system is working well, and that the federal government is fostering fear of people living with mental illness.
More specific details about the proposed changes will come when the Conservative government introduces the new bill early next year.
Tim McLean's grisly killing aboard a Greyhound bus on July 30, 2008, made international headlines.
Li stabbed the 22-year-old as he slept and continued to mutilate his victim after terrified passengers ran out of the bus near Portage La Prairie, Man.
“I believed he was an alien. The voices told me to kill him. That he would kill me or others. I do not believe this now. It was totally wrong. It was my fault,” Li said in a 2012 interview with the MSS.
Last May, Li was granted supervised passes outside the Selkirk mental hospital, a move McLean's father described as "a slap in the face to the justice system."