Blair Evan Donnelly, a 64-year-old man residing in Vancouver’s Chinatown, was arrested and charged on counts of aggravated assault following the alleged stabbing of three individuals at a festival on Sunday. Notably, Donnelly, who was nabbed promptly after the incident, had been confined to a psychiatric facility for the past decade and a half, after he was judged not criminally responsible for his daughter’s death in 2006.
Revealed at a press briefing on Monday, The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Chief Constable Adam Palmer disclosed that Donnelly was out on a day pass from the facility when he committed the random act of violence. The festival which was disrupted by the stabbing incident had drawn thousands of residents to the historic area – a sign of the potential gravity the situation could have taken.
At the time of his teenager daughter’s death, the court had declared Donnelly not criminally responsible in the second-degree murder case. The gruesome incident had taken place in Kitimat where the 16-year-old girl was fatally stabbed. Labelled as a “tragic and disturbing” case by the presiding judge, the circumstances have since left an indelible mark in public memory.
Over the last 15 years, Donnelly has been housed at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital or Colony Farm located in Coquitlam. In 2023, a significant shift came in the conditions of his detention when the review board approved a change allowing Donnelly to leave the facility with prior authorization.
According to the board’s decision, the director holds the discretion to grant Donnelly both escorted and unescorted access to the surrounding community. This permission, however, leans on the assessment of Donnelly’s mental state at the time, and the possible risks he could pose to himself and others. The ruling underlines the need for careful evaluation of such complex cases which could affect public safety.
B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety, approached for further comments, has recommended engaging with the Ministry of Health for more accurate information identified with the case.