The Salt Spring Island man who was charged with the murder of his mother is not criminally responsible according to a Supreme Court ruling posted online last week.
Martin Galen Vandenberg, 24, was arrested and charged on Dec. 6, 2017 at his mother’s, Heather Jones, home. He appeared by video from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, located on the Lower Mainland, during the sentencing hearing. He will remain in hospital until a disposition is held by the British Columbia Review Board.
Justice Jennifer Power addressed Vandenberg during the hearing to say she hoped he would be able to make use of the mental health assistance that would be provided to deal with his issues.
A trial that lasted from Sept. 17 to 19, heard from two psychiatrists with similar opinions. Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe testified, following a two and a half hour interview with Vandenberg, that he was suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia and cannabis use disorder, adding he was psychotic at the time of the homicide.
In the weeks leading up to the offence, family members made efforts to get Vandenberg mental health or counselling help. A neighbour told the courts he had told her he was hearing voices about a month before the crime. The day before the offence, Vandenberg and his father saw an emergency room doctor and a mental health nurse. Emergency room notes stated there was evidence of delusions and an appointment was made to see the mental health nurse again three days later to fill out a mental health and substance use referral.
The appointment never happened. Vandenberg was driven home by his mother. The next day Jones’s body was found in the bathtub of her home, covered in towels and linens. She died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her two dogs were also found dead, caused by blunt force trauma to the head as well.
Vandenberg was arrested at the scene by a police officer who stated he was compliant, but seemed to be in a ‘catatonic state.’
In an interview following the incident, Vandenberg stated he was hearing voices that told him unless he killed his mother, unspeakable acts would occur.
“There is no reason of motive that emerges from the evidence. It appears [he] loved his mother, as she loved him. Again, that is on of the great tragedies of this case,” stated the Justice Power.
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