A Duncan man who killed his brother with a sword in the apartment they shared in 2019 has been found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
23-year-old Finn Coogan was found dead just after midnight on May 4, 2019, when Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP responded to a call reporting a fight at an apartment building on Cowichan Lake Road.
Police arrested Daniel Coogan, now 28, at the scene and he was later charged with second-degree murder.
Crown and defence lawyers submitted an agreed statement of facts that said Daniel fatally wounded Finn with a sword, which was found in the victim’s chest when police arrived.
In her decision delivered in a Victoria courtroom Friday, however, BC Supreme Court Justice Jeanne E. Watchuk, relying on testimony from two psychiatrists, found that Daniel Coogan was acutely psychotic at the time of the killing and was incapable of knowing his actions were wrong.
Watchuk cited testimony that Daniel’s mental health issues first emerged after he suffered a brain hemorrhage seven years earlier and had progressed to severe schizophrenia, which included auditory hallucinations hearing voices, before the killing happened and continuing after he was taken into custody.
While Daniel had used ketamine earlier in the night, Watchuk found the evidence supported the view that his underlying mental illness was the main cause of his mental state at the time and intoxication played only a minor role.
The court also noted that the two brothers had been extremely close to one another.
Watchuk related testimony from Finn’s girlfriend, who also lived in the apartment with the two, who said they were “the best brothers and two of the sweetest people she’s ever met.”
Coogan gave a brief statement after Watchuk delivered her decision.
“There’s nothing I can say that will change what has happened. But there is something I can do, and that is continue on my path of treatment … for my family without whose love and support I would be lost and for my brother who I love and will always miss,” he said.
His parents also addressed the court, with his mother Sheila thanking everyone who has handled the case along the way, including the police officers who responded the night of the killing.
“And now knowing that he’s going to go and seek the treatment and support that he needs to have his best chance at moving forward and having a good life, that’s wonderful. It’s what his grandma wants for him, it’s what his family wants for him,” she said.
Coogan will remain in treatment at BC’s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital pending a Criminal Code Review Board decision on his case.