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

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

The Vernon Vipers defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-1 to secure the top spot in the BC Hockey League Vernon pod Friday, May 7, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
VIDEO: Vipers beat Salmon Arm, clinch top spot in BCHL Vernon pod

Goaltender James Porter Jr. was a wall for the Vipers, who outscored the Silverbacks 3-1 Friday

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Kelowna OK Tire closed due to COVID-19 exposure

The business will remain closed until May 11

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read