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Judge calls case of Campbell River father stabbing son to death 'profoundly disturbing'

Dec 05 2012

A Campbell River father has been found not criminally responsible for the murder of his seven-year-old son Jonathan in 2011.

On Tuesday, Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen found Brent Warren suffered from a mental disorder when he stabbed Jonathan 27 times on July 27, 2011.

"This case is profoundly disturbing and tragic," Cullen said.

Warren clearly understood he was killing his son and intended to kill his son, but in his mind, it was not morally wrong because he was doing it to save the world, Cullen said.

The verdict means Warren, 44, will be confined at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam for an indeterminate period of time. His case will be placed in the hands of the B.C. Review Board within 45 days and be subject to an annual review.

Both prosecutor Scott Van Alstine and Warren's defence lawyer, Robert Mulligan, asked the court to find Warren not guilty by reason of a mental disorder.

Outside court, Ben Bedarf, Jonathan's grandfather, stood with his daughter Linda Warren, who was injured when she tried to save her son that night.

Bedarf, who often looked after the boy, called the verdict depressing.

"There's no winners in this case," Bedarf said.

"There's no closure for us either because, on a yearly basis, we're going to have to go before the board to keep him locked up."

A videotaped statement given by Warren to police reveals the serious state of his mental illness, Mulligan said. The two-hour video shows a deeply distressed, rambling and troubled Warren repeatedly saying he loves his son and asking Jonathan for forgiveness.

Mulligan also presented assessments by forensic psychiatrists Dr. Marcel Hediger and Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy, who concluded Warren was suffering from a mental disorder when he killed Jonathan.

The psychiatric reports show Warren had been off his medication for about six weeks before he killed Jonathan and had experienced an increase in delusional thinking. Afraid of losing his driver's licence, he restarted his medication two days before killing Jonathan.

In the police interview, he blamed the medication for Jonathan's death.

The reports show Warren had a long history of chronic psychotic illness and grandiose and religious delusions. He believed he was Jesus Christ and that he must sacrifice his child before his eighth birthday to save his soul and to save the world from the devil.

His intent in killing his son was to transport him to the spiritual world so he could grab the magic wand and save the world, the reports say.

Both psychiatrists concluded Warren had schizo-effective disorder, a hybrid between bipolar disorder and schizophrenic illness.

Warren, who worked as a painter, had a Grade 7 education and had been referred to a psychiatrist at the age of 10. He and his mother both suffered psychological and physical abuse at the hands of Warren's violent, alcoholic father.

Warren was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2000 and was admitted to hospital in 2001 and 2003. He was admitted again in 2005.

Warren did not perceive what he was doing as morally wrong when he stabbed Jonathan, Van Als-tine said.

"Why else would he have killed his son in the fashion that he did?

"It leads to only one response: deep mental illness."


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