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Man who beheaded Greyhound bus passenger should get more freedom: psychiatrist

Vince Li is pictured in a Portage La Prairie, August 5, 2008. Li, who was found not criminally responsible for beheading a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus, has been granted unescorted trips from his mental hospital.THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

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Vince Li is pictured in a Portage La Prairie, August 5, 2008. Li, who was found not criminally responsible for beheading a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus, has been granted unescorted trips from his mental hospital.THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG - A man who beheaded and then ate parts of a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus almost six years ago might soon be granted unescorted day trips outside his mental hospital.

Vince Li's psychiatrist says the one-time undiagnosed schizophrenic has not been violent, no longer suffers delusions and has made tremendous progress.

"From a clinical perspective, he has progressed excellently," Dr. Steven Kremer told a Criminal Code Review Board hearing Monday.

Every year the board examines the conditions imposed on Li.

"Our overall goal is to eventually have Mr. Li reintegrate into the community."

Li, 46, was found not criminally responsible for stabbing and beheading Tim McLean, a young carnival worker, in July 2008.

The two men were strangers when Li sat next to McLean on a bus ride from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Li's attack was unprovoked — he said he heard voices telling him to kill McLean. The bus stopped and horrified passengers fled as Li carved up McLean's body and ate parts of it.

Li was initially kept inside a locked wing of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre 24 hours a day. Each year he has been granted more freedom, such as escorted day passes to Winnipeg, Lockport and nearby beaches.

On Monday, Li's psychiatric team asked for Li to be given three new privileges:

— Unescorted day passes into Selkirk.

— Relocation from the hospital's locked ward to an unlocked ward.

— Relaxed supervision during escorted trips into Winnipeg and Lockport. Instead of having a dedicated escort, Li would be one of three patients supervised by one hospital staff member.

Li, dressed in a leather jacket and black dress pants, was quiet throughout the hearing, with his head bowed for much of the time. He appeared to be paying close attention and thanked his lawyer and psychiatrist as sheriff's officers handcuffed him and led him out of the room.

Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde did not oppose the changes, noting that Li has co-operated with hospital staff at all times.

"Mr. Li has done everything that has been asked of him."

The victim's mother, however, said Li should remain locked up for life.

"I don't think it should matter whether you're mentally ill or not mentally ill. If you kill someone, you should lose your freedom, period," DeDelley said outside the hearing.

"I'm standing out here by my damn self for six years now, and they're going to ultimately let this person free. And if he reoffends, (they'll say), 'Oh well, statistically it shouldn't happen'. But guess what? It does, and it does and it does."

DeDelley has fought to toughen the laws governing people found not criminally responsible for killings. She has a website that tracks cases in which people with the designation have been rearrested or convicted on new charges.

The review board said it will render its decision within a week.

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