What a high-risk NCR designation could mean for Matthew de Grood

A man who admits to stabbing five people to death at a Calgary house party in 2014 has been ruled not criminally responsible (NCR), and the Crown says it’s considering a high-risk NCR designation for Matthew de Grood.

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The Criminal Code of Canada states an NCR designation can result when “an accused committed the act or made the omission that formed the basis of the offence charged, but was at the time suffering from mental disorder.”

Justice Eric Macklin said due to testimony from psychiatric experts, he believes “de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating or knowing that his actions were wrong.”

De Grood, 24, will be kept in a secure psychiatric facility pending assessment by the Alberta Review Board.

With an NCR designation, the person is neither acquitted nor convicted of the crime.

So what does it mean when a person is deemed high-risk?

For one thing, it means there are stricter rules surrounding the person’s conditions, and future potential release from psychiatric care.

READ MORE: ‘I did what I had to do’: Matthew de Grood pleads not guilty in Brentwood mass murder

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the trial of Matthew de Grood

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Matthew de Grood trial: expert witnesses support not criminally responsible defence

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Matthew de Grood told psychiatrist a voice said ‘kill them before they get you’

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Judge allows families to read tributes during Matthew de Grood murder trial

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Trial begins for Matthew de Grood



Secondly, any decision by the review board would need to approved by a judge.

“If the board of review is considering giving an absolute discharge, or a conditional discharge into the community, then that would have to go before a judge to be approved; the board of review couldn’t just do it on their own,” Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said Wednesday.

“It would go before a judge, and there would be arguments made before a judge.”

READ MORE: Timeline of the Brentwood tragedy

With a high-risk NCR designation, de Grood’s hearings could potentially occur every three years instead of annually, Wiberg said.

It will be months before the determination is made. A high-risk NCR hearing will be held after the first review by the board, which will be in 90 days. De Grood’s treatment team will present a risk assessment along with an update on de Grood’s current condition, which will be taken into consideration for the high-risk designation decision.

Wiberg says de Grood’s history and the facts of the case suggest he is a likely candidate for high-risk NCR.

“This is the most serious crime anyone can commit. It’s five counts of first-degree murder,” Wiberg said. “This was done without drugs or alcohol. So it’s not like someone, if they stay off alcohol, you know, there will be no crimes.”

De Grood also did not display symptoms of mental illness over a long period of time, Wiberg says, adding it was only in the weeks before the homicides that de Grood exhibited symptoms.

“So I think that certainly leads itself into consideration for a high-risk NCR.”

READ MORE: LIST – Canada’s prominent not criminally responsible (NCR) cases

De Grood was described as “clearly psychotic” by two forensic psychiatrists testifying at his trial; de Grood says voices in his head told him to “kill them all before they kill you” the night of fatal stabbings.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were stabbed to death at a house party in the Brentwood area of Calgary on April 15, 2014.

WATCH: A statement issued on behalf of the families of victims Hong, Hunter, Perras, Rathwell and Segura read by Greg Perras.

On Wednesday the victims’ families said in a statement the NCR finding will be “a recurring nightmare.”

“In this system, Matthew de Grood will meet with a mental health review board every single year to determine if he will be granted concessions,” Miles Hong, brother of Lawrence said.

READ MORE: ‘This isn’t the end’ – Brentwood victims’ families, Matthew de Grood’s parents react to verdict

“There will be no peace for us; our wounds never fully heal because every year our families will have to wonder, what will be the fate of the man who damaged so many lives?”

De Grood’s defence lawyer Allan Fay said he hopes the high-risk NCR is not applied.

“I’m concerned, but my hope and my belief is that after the Alberta Review Board sees him in 90 days it will be clear that that’s not a necessary step,” Fay said Wednesday.

De Grood could spend the rest of his life in custody, but should he be released, Fay said he hopes he would be able to reintegrate into society.

With files from Global News and