CAMH reviewing policies after forensic patient on day pass flees the country
Chris Fox and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, July 17, 2019 11:00AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 17, 2019 11:46PM EDT
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says it is reviewing its policies with "the highest level of attention" after a patient with a violent past boarded a flight and fled the country while out on an unaccompanied day pass.
"CAMH has launched an internal incident review in relation to this specific and rare incident," the organization said in a statement Wednesday. "The highest level of attention and review of our policies and procedures related to this incident is underway."
The man, 47-year-old Zhebin Cong, was charged in a fatal stabbing in 2014 but was found not criminally responsible.
He disappeared from the Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue area on July 3 and boarded an international flight on the same day.
Police have said that they are working with international law enforcement agencies to try and locate him.
CAMH said they notified police of Cong's absence the day he went missing.
As a result of the incident, CAMH said their physician-in-chief will review all passes and privileges granted to not criminally responsible patients.
CAMH said it will also add clinical and security staff to its forensic mental health unit, where Cong was a patient.
Privileges, supervision and management of patients who have been found not criminally responsible are determined by the Ontario Review Board, an independent provincial tribunal.
In its statement, CAMH said that privileges such as day passes are "essential to prepare forensic patients to be able to safely reintegrate with the community.
"Privileges such as community passes are only granted if several conditions are met, including ORB authorization."
In a statement Wednesday night, Toronto police said CAMH advised them that Cong was a "low risk" to public safety and to himself and was allowed on regular unaccompanied public passes.
However an Ontario Review Board document obtained by CP24 shows that in May of 2019, the ORB found that Cong continued to pose a "significant threat" to the safety of the public.
The document said that it was probable he would stop taking his prescribed medication and stop essential health care that could cause a relapse and result in harmful criminal conduct. It also said he expressed his desire to return to China and see his mother.
Police tried to locate Cong for 11 days before issuing a tweet to the public advising that they were searching for a missing man. Two days later on July 16, police confirmed that Cong had fled the country on a flight on July 3, the same day he went missing.
Mayor John Tory called the case “very troubling” Wednesday and said it has left him with “many questions.”
In a statement, Tory expressed dismay “about how this could have happened.”
“I believe everyone involved in this case should be as transparent as possible with the public about this situation as they get answers,” he said. “I'm confident that CAMH and all authorities involved are working to determine exactly what happened, will let us know as much as they can when they find out, and will make any changes necessary to make sure this situation is never repeated."
Cong is described as standing around five-foot-nine and weighing about 200 pounds. He has a heavy build with short black hair and police say he has trouble speaking English.