A family member of five slain students holds a heart sign with their names on it following a court decision in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 25, 2016. The law firm for a mentally ill man who fatally stabbed five people at a Calgary house party has filed an appeal of a ruling that found he remains a significant risk to public safety. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Appeal filed against Alberta Review Board ruling that Matthew de Grood still a risk

A lawyer for a mentally ill man who fatally stabbed five young people at a Calgary house party is appealing a determination that he remains “a significant risk to public safety” and wants him released from custody.

Matthew de Grood, 31, was found not criminally responsible for the 2014 killings of Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Kaitlin Perras, Josh Hunter and Lawrence Hong because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time.

He appeared at his annual review hearing last month in Edmonton that assessed his treatment and whether he should be allowed any increased privileges or freedoms over the next year.

The Alberta Review Board ruled that de Grood must remain detained at Alberta Hospital Edmonton or the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary, despite a decision a year ago that he was to transition to a group home.

In a notice of appeal released late Tuesday, de Grood’s lawyer asked the Alberta Court of Appeal to set aside the review board’s order and substitute it with an absolute or conditional discharge.

The notice contends the board’s ruling was unreasonable and should be set aside due to procedural unfairness and a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the chair.

“The Review Board ignored and/or misapprehended key evidence, and made findings absent supporting evidence, when it concluded the appellant is currently a significant threat to public safety,” reads the notice signed by lawyer Jacqueline Petrie.

The notice also contends the review board misunderstood and failed to correctly apply the legal and analytic framework for determining “significant threat” as established by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Gregg Perras, whose daughter Kaitlin died in the attack, told The Canadian Press he is frustrated.

“It is sad and exhausting for the families who have lost so much and continue to be put through the ringer when trying to heal and move forward in the best way we can,” Perras said.

It’s the second time de Grood has gone to the Alberta Court of Appeal. In April 2021 the court overturned a decision by the Alberta Review Board to rescind some of his freedoms and put into place conditions to allow his gradual transition into a group home.

It also reinstated other privileges after finding the board was “unreasonable” in taking them away.

“Very frustrating for the families that two years in a row the decision of the board comes into question and then the judicial system gets involved in a mental health process,” Perras added.

The board did rule that de Grood can ask for unsupervised passes to both Calgary and Edmonton as well as supervised visits for up to two weeks to visit his sister in British Columbia.

Petrie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

De Grood’s trial heard he attacked the individuals at a party, held to mark the end of the school year, believing the devil was talking to him and a war was about to begin that signalled the end of the world.

He told officers he knew what he did was “atrocious” but he was killing Medusas and werewolves.

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