Fort Nelson man not criminally responsible for killing landlord

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found a Fort Nelson man not criminally responsible for stabbing his landlord to death in 2015 because he was mentally ill.

Justice Catherine Murray told Joshua Edward Dillon she was satisfied he caused the death of Beverley McLeod on July 29, 2015, but was also satisfied he was not criminally responsible because he was suffering a psychotic episode of schizophrenia at the time of the attack.

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“After considering all of the evidence and all of the circumstances, I conclude Mr. Dillon was, as a result of his mental illness, unable to rationally consider whether his act was wrong,” Murray said in delivering her verdict in a Fort St. John courtroom on April 21. 

Both the Crown and Dillon’s defence counsel called forensic psychiatrists to testify during the two-day trial last week. Both psychiatrists, the only two witnesses called, concluded Dillon was actively psychotic leading up to and after the attack, and had been suffering delusions that made him fear for his life, Murray noted in her ruling.

“Mr. Dillon knew that what he did was legally wrong. That is clearly evidenced in fleeing, discarding his bloody clothes, and hatching the ill-conceived plan to hitchhike to Whitehorse with his woefully inadequate survival pack,” Murray said.

“However, the doctors agree that because of his mental illness Mr. Dillon was unable to appreciate the moral wrongfulness of his actions. Mr. Dillon was so disturbed that he thought he was morally justified to kill Ms. McLeod. He truly believed as a result of his delusions that he had to kill or be killed.”

Dillon had been renting a basement suite from McLeod on Spruce Avenue in Fort Nelson for a couple months prior to the attack, court heard in an agreed statement of facts. 

On several occasions, Dillon had broken into McLeod’s suite to clean dishes or steal medicine, court heard, leading McLeod to set traps to confirm her suspicions and sleep with a baseball bat next to her bed.

The day before the attack, the two had a confrontation over the spiders McLeod had been keeping as pets in a terrarium in her upper-level suite, court heard. Dillon had broken into McLeod’s suite and killed the spiders because the “house was infested with them.” 

Dr. David Morgan testified that Dillon had a family history of schizophrenia that left him susceptible to the disease. Dillon believed McLeod was using the spiders in the terrarium in her suite to harm him, and perceived that she intended to kill him, Morgan said.

Prior to the attack, Dillon had been suffering “bizarre delusions” of thought broadcasts, had recurring dreams that his organs were being harvested, and believed McLeod’s spiders were crawling through the vents and laying eggs in his ears, among others. He had also apparently tried to commit suicide prior to the attack, Morgan said.

When Dillon hid behind his door and attacked McLeod on July 29, stabbing her 13 times, fear was the driving motivator, Morgan said, adding he believed Dillon knew his attack was legally wrong and that he would be sought by police.

“The thing that drove this is not symptoms. The thing that is driving this is fear,” he said. 

“When the source of the fear is removed, the fear is gone: ‘I’m safe, I’m not going to be killed.’”

McLeod's body was discovered by her mother, and Dillon was arrested the following day.

Both Dillon’s lawyer and McLeod’s family declined comment outside the courtroom.

Dillon has been ordered into strict custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam for treatment and monitoring.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News
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