Harry Richardson was found guilty on four counts at the Nelson Courthouse on March 22 and has now been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness. File photo

Harry Richardson was found guilty on four counts at the Nelson Courthouse on March 22 and has now been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness. File photo

Man who fired at RCMP officers in West Kootenay found not criminally responsible

Harry Richardson found to be mentally ill during 2019 incident in Argenta

A man who shot an RCMP officer during a 2019 incident in Argenta has been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Harry Richardson was found guilty of reckless discharge of a firearm, careless use of a firearm, unlawfully in a dwelling-house, and unlawful attempt to cause bodily harm in Nelson court on March 22.

After the verdict, Richardson applied to the court for a decision that he was not criminally responsible, and provided evidence from two psychiatrists to support him. A hearing was held on April 13, and Judge Philip Seagram gave his decision and reasons on May 4.

To be found not criminally responsible, the Criminal Code of Canada states the accused person must be shown to be suffering from a mental disorder, and that disorder renders the person “incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act, or of knowing that it was wrong.”

A person found not criminally responsible does not automatically go free, but may be subject to detention in a mental health facility. This determination has not yet been made for Richardson.

The Argenta incident, which featured 22 shots fired at police, shook the small West Kootenay community located north of Kaslo. Richardson was arrested on Oct. 11, 2019 after an overnight standoff.

Seagram said in the opinion of a forensic psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist, both of whom had interviewed and examined Richardson, he was ill with schizophrenia at the time of the incident and likely had been for several months leading up to it.

Seagram also cited Richardson’s history of mental illness going back a decade, and pointed to evidence of Richardson’s erratic behaviour in the weeks leading up to the Argenta incident.

He said Richardson’s actions in the Argenta incident were “inexplicable but for some profound malfunction of his mind.”

All the evidence adds up to Richardson having a delusional belief that the police were hunting him in order to kill him, Seagram said.

As an indicator of his mental state, Seagram cited evidence from the March 22 trial in which Richardson told an Argenta resident that “he was terrified because the police were hunting him down like an animal. He (said) that the police were going to inject him with a number of pharmaceuticals, which he named, and thereby ‘kill off his being.’”

The inability to make a rational choice, Seagram said, can stem from delusions in which a person sees wrong as right.

Seagram said one of the psychiatrists gave Richardson a test designed to identify whether a person is “malingering” his psychiatric symptom, or in other words pretending to be mentally ill. Richardson, Seagram said, got zero out of 25 on the test, indicating his symptoms were genuine.

Richardson’s next step is to appear at a disposition hearing conducted by the B.C. Review Board, which is empowered to decide one of three results: an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge (live in the community but with conditions or restrictions) or custody (detained in hospital).

While waiting for the hearing, which must happen within 45 days, Richardson will remain in custody.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Creston Town Hall. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Ellen Tzakis resigns from Creston Town Council

Council is preparing to hold a by-election later this year

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Three women retire from School District 8 with COVID-friendly celebration

Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall shared 87 years of service collectively

Two Creston Schools have reported potential COVID exposure. (Submitted photo)
Two Creston schools report potential COVID-19 exposure

Those who tested positive on May 3, 4 are now self-isolating at home

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read