A Langdale man accused of murdering his mother is awaiting a court-ordered psychiatric assessment.
Mary Richards, a 53-year-old woman from Kelowna, was visiting her 33-year-old son Raymond Irwin in Langdale when she died sometime around Feb. 5. Police found her body near the B&K logging road in Roberts Creek early on the morning of Feb. 7. An autopsy was performed Feb. 8, but police have not released the cause of Richards' death.
According to Sunshine Coast RCMP Sgt. Danny Willis, Richards arrived at her son's house less than 24 hours before her death. Irwin's wife, Ami, who was visiting relatives in Pennsylvania, became concerned when she could not contact her mother-in-law. She phoned police at 5:17 p.m. on Feb. 6 and asked them to check on Richards' welfare. Police went to Irwin's waterfront house on Smith Road near the Langdale ferry terminal about 7:30 p.m. but found no one home and no vehicles in the driveway. Police returned to the house at 10:30 p.m. This time they found a rented van in the driveway and Irwin at home, and they arrested him.
Willis said the circumstances at Irwin's home were suspicious.
"[Police] members made inquiries and weren't happy with what they saw," said Willis. "They detained him and brought him to the Sechelt office for further questioning. Through investigation we found out where the body was and located it."
A forensic RCMP team from Vancouver was at Irwin's house from Saturday through Tuesday, gathering evidence. Willis would not reveal further details of the investigation, which involves the Sunshine Coast RCMP and the RCMP's Lower Mainland Integrated Homicide Section as well as the forensic specialists.
Irwin was distraught and irrational when he appeared in Sechelt provincial court Feb. 9 to face a charge of first degree murder. He claimed this was a case of mistaken identity because his name was "King Richard" and talked about nuclear holocaust.
"All the circumstances surrounding this case were written thousands of years ago in the Book of Revelations," Irwin told judge Dan Moon. Irwin clasped his hands together as he begged the judge to believe that he was not crazy.
"I want to explain my statement yesterday that I'm dead and a vampire," said Irwin. "I know how crazy it sounded."
Irwin's lawyer, Jerome Williams, eventually intervened to stop his client's outburst.
Moon ordered a psychiatric assessment to determine whether Irwin is fit to stand trial. As well, the judge ordered a determination of whether Irwin was not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder at the time of the alleged murder.
The judge was emphatic that Irwin should be held in custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Institute (FPI) in Port Coquitlam, not in a jail cell. FPI is the only facility in B.C. which deals with mentally ill prisoners, and waiting lists are common there.
"I expect this gentleman to be dealt with in custody in the hospital," said Moon. "I know beds are difficult to find, typically. In these circumstances there is no question this gentleman should be going to a hospital bed."
However, FPI initially did not accept Irwin and instead placed him 13th on a waiting list for admission. Meanwhile, Irwin was held at the North Fraser Pre-trial Centre, where medical treatment was available at the prison's health unit.
In court Feb. 10, Moon said that situation was not acceptable.
"In my view, that's not good enough. Mr. Irwin should be taken to FPI immediately," said Moon.
The judge requested a special court hearing where a representative from FPI could explain why Irwin could not be admitted at once. FPI then re-evaluated Irwin's case and decided to admit him.
Irwin is scheduled to return to Sechelt provincial court on March 9. If he is fit to stand trial, the murder case will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. If he is found to be mentally unfit, he will be held at FPI until a psychiatric review board decides he is well enough to return to court for trial. If he is found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder, he will not be dealt with in court and the psychiatric review board will decide how long he is held in custody.