Calgary mass killer found not criminally responsible

Matthew de Grood stabbed five people at a party after hearing what he thought was the voice of the devil

Matthew de Grood of Calgary is shown in an image from a Calgary 10k race in 2013. De Grood is appearing before a hearing from the Alberta Review Board which will determine if he should be granted more freedom. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

A Calgary man found not criminally responsible for the stabbing deaths of five young people four years ago told a review board hearing he is sorry for what he’s done and will do everything he can to make amends.

Matthew de Grood told the Alberta Review Board he wishes what he called the “terrible tragedy” had never happened.

He says he is taking his treatment seriously at the Calgary hospital where he is housed.

The review board’s annual hearing is to get an update on de Grood’s progress and determine if he should be granted more freedom.

His psychiatrist told the board de Grood is a model patient who is committed to his treatment.

But Dr. Sergio Santana says the treatment team believes de Grood, who is now 27, will need to stay in the secure hospital for some time.

“It grieves me knowing the pain and anger I’ve caused,” de Grood told the hearing Friday. “I desperately wish it didn’t happen. I take relapse prevention seriously. I will do everything in my power to make amends.”

He also said he suffers from survivors guilt, “that I’m still around and others are not.”

“I am truly sorry for what I’ve done. I pray someday that those who are suffering will find peace.”

Santana told the review board de Grood has developed insight into his illness and is trying to do the right thing. His testimony prompted jeers from family members of the victims and a sharp rebuke from the board chair.

“He’s not just there going through the motions,” Santana told the hearing. “Matthew is a model patient and he’s doing everything he can.”

It’s possible de Grood could be released back into the community eventually, Santana said. His schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder is in full remission but there is an increased risk of violence if he slips back into a psychotic state, Santana said.

“His progress is good. Eventually there will be a time when reintegration will be possible.”

De Grood told treatment staff and his family that he was having flashbacks around the anniversary of the attacks.

De Grood was upset last November when another doctor refused to treat him because he didn’t want to draw unwanted attention to his clinic, Santana said. De Grood realizes that the notoriety of his actions will be with him for a long time, he said.

“That was a reality check in a way.”

De Grood was granted more privileges following the review in April 2017, including being allowed to go for supervised walks on hospital grounds as well as being allowed trips for medical appointments and treatment.

De Grood was suffering from a mental disorder when he attacked and killed Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, in April 2014.

The judge ruled de Grood didn’t understand his actions were wrong. He is on medication for schizophrenia and his symptoms had been in “full remission” since July 2014.

De Grood has said he heard what he thought was the voice of the devil before the attack and told a psychiatrist that he believed a war was about to begin, signalling the end of the world, when he arrived at the party.

The Canadian Press

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