I. Introduction

The purpose of this e-resource is to offer information and increased understanding to individuals and families who have been impacted by a crime committed by someone who is mentally ill. It focuses on victims’ experiences and explains the hospital/forensic mental health system to persons who are entering the system for the first time. Victims of such crimes have identified that one of the biggest hurdles in their understanding of the process is that while the accused physically committed the crime, he/she is not held accountable in the way that other offenders are in the criminal justice system. The person who committed the crime is diverted into the forensic mental health system, not a prison. The individual you know as the offender becomes a patient, not an inmate, and is treated by nurses, social workers and psychiatrists. In different regions of the country, the person who committed the crime may be referred to as “the patient” or “the accused” or both.

Throughout this document, information is provided about provincial and territorial Review Boards (Review Boards), the dispositions imposed (which can include detention in a mental health facility and treatment) on the accused, or patient, as they are now referred to in many jurisdictions, and the victims’ rights and roles within this system. As well, frequently asked questions are answered, and information is provided to help victims find assistance and access supports near them.

My name is Donna McCully.

It was always our wish to live in Jamaica in our dream home. So, in August 2012, my husband Sedrick Levine and I left Canada to move into our new home. We were thrilled to finally be starting the next chapter in our lives, in Sedrick’s beloved homeland. He bought a little bus and planned to operate tours for visitors to the island. I was helping him run this business venture, as part of our semi- retirement in Jamaica.

My life as I knew it was suddenly shattered when two masked men broke into our home on Sunday, November 17, 2013. Sedrick struggled with the men, allowing me to flee upstairs to call the police. His actions saved my life that day, and that of my father and his housekeeper, who were visiting us at the time. One of the masked intruders chased me upstairs and kicked in the bathroom door, but he stopped when he heard a gunshot from downstairs.

My husband Sedrick was killed that day and the men fled our home with a laptop. The Jamaican police have not yet found these men or charged them with killing my beloved husband. Their motive remains unknown.

This crime has completely changed my life. I suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder now and have depression as a result. I came back to Canada, but I feel very isolated since this happened. These emotional scars may never heal.

I managed to find the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime by searching online one day. I didn’t know where to turn for help when I came home to Canada. The CRCVC has provided me with a lot of emotional support, which has been tremendously helpful. They’ve also written numerous letters to Jamaican officials seeking justice for Sedrick, as well as intervening with Canadian officials on my behalf. The office also helped connect me to a trauma therapist for counselling sessions too.

In order to try and make sense of what happened to Sedrick, it is my hope that others could support the work of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. There are so many other victims/survivors out there who also need their assistance.