A provincial court judge has ruled that a Sayward man who attacked a friend with a shotgun on May 28, 2015, discharging the weapon once outside and once into a wall during a struggle in the living room, is not criminally responsible for his actions.
Judge Barbara Flewelling ruled in Campbell River Provincial Court on Feb. 6, that Tyler Ryan Ordano is not criminally responsible for his actions on that day in 2015 due to mental disorder.
In a written decision, Judge Flewelling describes the circumstances that lead to the charges, saying at approximately 7:15 a.m., on May 28, 2015, Ordano drove to a family friend’s house in Sayward, fired a 12-gauge shotgun into the air towards the front door, lodging a shotgun slug in the frame of a baby stroller stored on the front porch. Ordano then entered the house and found Stephen Allcroft sleeping on the sofa in the living room. Allcroft awoke to find the still-loaded shotgun pointed at his head. At some point, Ordano swore and yelled, “Stay away from my family, you’re dead” and “I’m going to kill you,” the judge says.
A fight over the weapon ensued and Ordano struck Allcroft a number of times with his head and elbows. Allcroft grabbed the gun and during this part of the struggle, a second round was discharged, sending a shotgun slug into the wall of the living room. Allcroft was finally able to get hold of the gun, removed the one remaining shell and placed it on the floor.
Ordano, the judge continues, “demanded his shotgun back and upon seeing his one-year-old and four-year-old children walk into the living room, (Allcroft) kicked the gun back to Mr. Ordano. As Mr. Allcroft was reaching for his child, Mr. Ordano swung the shotgun like a baseball bat at Mr. Allcroft’s face and struck him in the head with it.
“As Mr. Allcroft stood there holding his youngest child, he asked Mr. Ordano what he was doing, saying that he had his baby in his arm. It appears that once Mr. Ordano realized that Mr. Allcroft had his child in his arms, he left saying that he would be back.”
Allcroft was injured and suffered a concussion, an injury to his eye, ruptured tendons in his hand requiring surgical repair, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ordano was arrested the same day and was detained in custody until his release on March 24, 2016.
Ordano was charged after the incident with aggravated assault; break and enter into a dwelling; use of a weapon while committing an assault; possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for committing an offence; and reckless discharge of a firearm.
“I find that Mr. Ordano committed the actions that form the basis for the charges,” the judge says in a written decision which she read out in court. “I also find that Mr. Ordano has established, on a basis of probabilities, that at the time of the offence, he suffered from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his actions or of knowing that they were wrong.”
Ordano’s mental state formed the crux of the case. The judge is required to not just determine that Ordano suffered from a mental disorder at the time of the offence, she is also required to consider whether his mental disorder rendered Ordano incapable of either appreciating the nature and quality of his actions or from knowing they were wrong.
Crown counsel argued that Ordano knew he was striking and threatening Allcroft and that he had fired a shotgun and, secondly, that Ordano appreciated the consequences of such actions, namely, pain, fear and the risk of firearm discharge. The Crown also submitted that Ordano knew that his actions were wrong and points to Ordano’s evidence that when he saw Allcroft’s little girl come into the room “it felt wrong.”
But mere knowledge of his actions is not enough, the judge says.
“To be criminally responsible, Mr. Ordano must have had the capacity to perceive the consequences, impact and results of his actions,” the judge says.
The judge has to decide whether Ordano, by reason of a mental disorder, was deprived of the mental capacity to foresee and measure the consequences of his act. Some actions committed by individuals suffering from a mental disorder are justified by the delusions they may be experiencing.
At the time of the offence, the judge says, Ordano had “grandiose plans and believed he had to carry out one more mission.”
“It was only afterwards when he saw Mr. Allcroft’s little girl in the living room that he realized what had occurred and that something felt wrong,” the judge says.
She concludes “that the mental disorder removed his ability or capacity to appreciate not only the nature but also the quality of his action.”
Later, she says, “His mental disorder, accompanied by the acute manic and psychotic episode, deprived him of that ability such that it rendered him incapable of knowing that his actions were wrong.”
Ordano will receive treatment as per provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada.
“The Criminal Code provisions are in place to ensure that morally innocent offenders are treated rather than punished, while protecting the public as fully as possible,” the judge says. “As I have found Mr. Ordano not criminally responsible due to mental disorder, further disposition of this matter will be dealt with by the British Columbia Review Board under the provisions of part XX.1 of the Criminal Code.”
The British Columbia Review Board, an independent tribunal, has ongoing jurisdiction to hold hearings to make and review dispositions (orders) where individuals charged with criminal offences have been given verdicts of not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial on account of mental disorder, by a court. On the Review Board’s website it says, “Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code recognizes that the only way a fair and just decision can properly be made about the liberty of a person receiving an NCRMD verdict is after an individualized assessment of his/her dangerousness.”