La Loche shooter has PTSD symptoms, psychiatrist tells hearing

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Courtesy of Globe and Mail

A psychiatrist says a teenager who killed four people in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Mansfield Mela is testifying in the teen’s defence at a sentencing hearing which will determine if the teen is sentenced as an adult or a youth.

Mela told court in Meadow Lake, Sask., that the teen has flashbacks of the shooting which have led to suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.

He says the teen has an intellectual disability, major depressive disorder and displays some symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Mela says the teen also smoked a lot of marijuana which made him believe people were talking about him.

The psychiatrist told court he believes the teen decided to carry through with the shooting – which also injured seven people –without thinking of the consequences.

The teen – who cannot be named since he was just shy of his 18th birthday when the shooting occurred – pleaded guilty last fall to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

He killed brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine in a home in January 2016 before shooting up the high school where teacher Adam Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier died.

His lawyer, Aaron Fox, has asked court for a Gladue report, which examines an indigenous offender’s background for the judge to use in making a sentencing decision.

Fox says some information about the youth’s background that has come out raises important questions that need to be answered.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s some history there that we think is relevant and this is just too serious a matter not to have that covered off,” Fox said outside the courthouse Wednesday.

“It’s not a situation where anybody is prejudiced by the delay. Having said that, I understand people want to get this wrapped up, but it’s too important an issue not to deal with.”

Crown prosecutor Lloyd Stang did not oppose the request for the Gladue report, but questioned the timing of the request. He said it’s a report that could have been ordered sooner.

“If it does cause an additional delay, I’m sure that would be frustrating for the community and the victims because they most of all want to see this move forward and the process get completed as soon as possible.”

The Crown finished presenting its case Wednesday and the defence began its case Thursday. Fox said if the teen makes a statement, it will be Friday.

No date has been set for closing arguments.

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