Psychiatric evaluation completed for man accused of crashing bus into Laval daycare

“It’s really a battle of experts,” says lawyer Kwadwo Yeboah. The report on criminal responsibility of the bus driver who crashed into a Laval daycare in February, killing two children, was submitted to the court. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

By The Canadian Press & News Staff

The bus driver who allegedly drove his vehicle into a daycare in the Sainte-Rose neighbourhood of Laval last February – killing two young children and injuring six others – was back in court Wednesday morning. He appeared via video conference from the Institut Philippe-Pinel.

The judge delayed the hearing to June 13, 2023 to give both parties the time to evaluate the psychiatric report completed by the Institut Philippe-Pinel evaluating the suspects mental state at the time of the alleged crimes.

The report was delivered Wednesday morning but the defense and prosecution did not have the time to study it.

“It’s 22 pages, so we have to take the time to read it to determine what the next steps in the file will be,” explained Crown prosecutor Karine Dalphond outside the courtroom.

In his last hearing on March 28, the Institut Philippe-Pinel had requested an additional month to evaluate the suspect’s mental state at the time of the alleged crimes, given the nature of the offence and the “complexity of the file.”

The report has been put under seal.

“To prevent members of the public from seeing a report that contains very personal information,” explained Dalphond.

Quebec prosecutor Karine Dalphond. (Credit: Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

The prosecution will now study the report, which was requested by the defence, and determine the next steps, “whether it’s a counter-expertise, whether it’s a file that’s going to go forward, a joint suggestion.”

“It’s really a battle of experts,” says criminal defence lawyer, Kwadwo Yeboah. “If the defence attorney reads the report today and is not satisfied, you can rest assured that you’re going to get your own expert to go over this and vice versa, if the Crown is not satisfied [they can ask for a] complimentary expert or asked somebody completely different to have another expertise.”

Pierre Ny St-Amand is charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as seven other counts, including attempted murder and aggravated assault, after allegedly driving his Société de transport de Laval (STL) bus into the Garderie Éducative Sainte-Rose on February 8, 2023.

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St-Amand was judged fit to stand trial on Feb. 24 after an initial psychiatric evaluation, but his lawyer, Julien Lespérance Hudon, asked for another assessment to help determine whether the accused should be held criminally responsible for his actions.

“There’s the medical side and the legal side,” he said. “It’s not because he’s found not criminally responsible [by a] medical expert that legally he is not responsible. So that’s why we have to do some work, depending on the decision it is, either way.”

“If he is deemed that he’s criminally not responsible for this, that means he actually did the act, but he was not in his right state of mind,” said Yeboah. “He couldn’t see right from wrong, it doesn’t mean he gets to walk out free in society and walk among us again.”

On the day of the bus attack, St-Amand was charged late that same afternoon. He had appeared via video from his hospital bed at Sacré-Coeur. During that hearing, the police officer in the room with St-Amand said the accused hit him because “he was mad” – adding “he is no longer cooperating.”

On the scene of the crash, witnesses said the suspect removed all his clothes and was yelling. A few citizens worked to subdue the man until police arrived. They also helped officers get St-Amand into the police cruiser as they had difficulties with the suspect.

It was initially unclear whether St-Amand would remain at the hospital or be returned to a conventional detention centre while awaiting his next court appearance.

Prosecutor Karine Dalphond said she believed the accused would be transferred because the evaluation was complete, but Lespérance Hudon said his client would remain at the psychiatric hospital until his next court date. He did not give a reason for the continued hospitalization, other than to say that such a decision is generally based on a treatment plan.

The accused, Pierre Ny St-Amand, faces many charges including two counts of first-degree murder. (Credit: Facebook/Pierre Ny St-Amand)

-With files from The Canadian Press

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