A man who was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder for the 2014 stabbing in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park will be detained in a psychiatric hospital.
The B.C. Review Board considered the case of Paul Cowie in December, and ordered that he be detained in a designated psychiatric hospital which will be reviewed in 12 months.
On Jan. 12, 2014, police were called to the park for a report that a man had been stabbed several times, and the assault was interrupted by two witnesses. The suspect ran away.
The victim was treated in the hospital with life-threatening injuries to his head, face and chest, and did ultimately survive the assault.
Investigators were able to collect DNA evidence and released a sketch of the suspect but were unable to make a connection until 2018.
In 2018, a review of the historical investigation was able to be conducted due to advances in DNA evidence collection. The DNA profile was submitted to the U.S. to check its Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
This resulted in a match to Cowie, who was in the U.S. database related to a criminal offence in Wyoming.
Cowie had been on Vancouver Island in 2014, then fled to Alberta after the stabbing. In Alberta, he stole a Parks Canada vehicle and then used the vehicle to cross into the United States. He was then arrested in Yellow Stone National Park by park rangers, at which point his DNA was submitted to CODIS.
When his DNA was matched, investigators found him in Brandon, Manitoba, where he was arrested in November 2019 with the assistance of Brandon Police Service. He was charged with aggravated assault.
Then on June 30, 2023 he was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, which means he was neither convicted or acquitted, but rather found that due to a mental disorder lacked the capacity to appreciate what he did or know that it was wrong.
If a person is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, a provincial or territorial review board then decides between an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge or detention in custody in a hospital.