A Supreme Court judge has ruled that homeless man David Van Den Brink is not criminally responsible for killing another homeless man in Langley due to a mental disorder.
In his written decision, released Monday, Justice Austin Cullen said the ‘tragic and disturbing event’ involved Well ‘Miles’ Gallagher being attacked without any provocation or reason on June 1, 2015 outside the Baselines Pub in downtown Langley.
Gallagher, 37, died after Van Den Brink lunged at him with a knife, stabbing at his neck and face.
Van Den Brink, then 21, had been released from jail that morning. He had spent his time in custody having delusional thoughts about ‘Miles’ — a fellow homeless person and an acquaintance on the streets of Langley City.
Cullen referred the ‘troubling case’ to the Review Board which has the ‘particular expertise’ to assesses the issues and evidence including a risk assessment.
He ordered Van Den Brink to be confined to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam. Four different psychiatrists have assessed Van Den Brink, one as recently as April, and all have said the young man continues to be detached from reality and under the delusion that it was God who sent him to kill Miles.
The court learned that Van Den Brink had likely been living with undiagnosed schizophrenia for a year leading up to the day of the murder.
It’s believed Van Den Brink had his first psychotic break on the day he killed Gallagher. Information about his mental state wasn’t learned until 2016 while he was in jail.
He was seen by a forensic psychiatrist for the first time on March 31, 2016. In an interview with the psychiatrist, Van Den Brink said, “God had started talking to him and had told him that morning that Miles had to be killed and he needed to drink his blood to get his power.”
Gallagher’s family spoke out after the ruling.
“We are so grateful for the dedication of IHIT, the witnesses, the community and especially of Crichton Pike with the Crown. They have all done their very best to make sure that Wells was not just some homeless man who had no face and was killed because of a lifestyle choice he chose,” said his sister, Danielle Hagen.
“We are heartbroken that because of our current system and its short comings, two families are shattered and a gentle human being has been murdered in a most violent and gruesome way. It’s a struggle to maintain compassion and understand for the other side of this.”
Hagen said the only comfort is that Van Den Brink will receive the help he desperately needs.
“And no other family will experience the terrible horror of losing someone so loved in such an unimaginable way,” she said.
Several of Gallagher’s family members had to leave the courtroom during the statement of facts.
Minutes after the murder, Langley police tracked the attacker to the back parking lot of the Langley Times, where he was arrested, his face and clothes covered in blood.
Van Den Brink has been behind bars at Surrey remand centre since his arrest. He has had three visits to the forensic psychiatric hospital where he will now reside after being committed by the judge on Monday.
Up until spring of 2016, he was considered fit to stand trial, until a judge ordered a forensic report on his state of mind.
“He was quietly psychotic while at Surrey pretrial,” said Crown counsel.
It’s believed his behaviour while in custody may have been wrongly attributed to his autism.
It was learned that Van Den Brink continues to suffer from psychosis. Four doctors have seen him and all concur. He’s also been prescribed four different anti-psychotic drugs but continues to be delusional and have hallucinations, and believes he is communicating with God, said Crown.