One line heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster last week could easily be applied to every decision made in cases dealing with a wrongful death:
“The verdict doesn’t change the human tragedy.”
It may seem an obvious statement, when a life has been lost and many have been left behind to grieve.
Less obvious perhaps – and far less common – is that the human-tragedy factor can also apply to the person responsible for the death.
Such was the case Friday, when Supreme Court Justice Patrice Abrioux ruled that Jeffrey Caillé was not criminally responsible for the August 2014 death of White Rock resident Bruce Ridout, on account of mental disorder.
The court had heard that Caillé’s disorder – schizophrenia – had been latent, undiagnosed and presenting no symptoms until just a week before the tragedy unfolded.
Signs of something amiss began to surface after Caillé – 22 years old at the time – took ecstasy while in Penticton with his girlfriend. On the evening of Ridout’s death, the court heard, Caillé’s behaviour exploded into violence shortly after he smoked a joint.
He attacked his then-girlfriend, and ultimately, inflicted the wounds that killed 61-year-old Ridout – who witnesses said was coming to the defence of a woman at the time.
Every aspect of this incident is tragic, from the loss of life to the injuries suffered by two women, to the role mental health played.
For some, Friday’s verdict was “absolutely” the right decision; they don’t blame Caillé for what happened because they know he wasn’t himself.
Some wanted to see jail time for the man who “took a beautiful soul.”
And others said they are “still numb” from the experience, wondering what they could have done differently at the time to prevent what happened. They knew a young man was struggling, but were at a loss as to how to help.
As difficult as it may be to see any positive in the tragedy, the fact that Caillé’s disorder was discovered is exactly that. Now, a tormented young man is receiving much-needed treatment.
It is unfortunate that it took so many human tragedies to reach this point.
We can only hope that they won’t be repeated should a similar situation unfold for someone else.