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Vanderhoof killer committed to Forensic Psychiatric Hospital

Justin James Johnston was found not guilty due to mental disorder in manslaughter death of his mother, Joy Morris
justice-scales

The B.C. Review Board says a Vanderhoof man found not guilty due to mental disorder in the manslaughter death of his mother must reside at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.

The order for Justin James Johnston, 43, was issued November 3, seven weeks after a B.C. Supreme Court Justice reached the verdict in relation to the January 2020 death of Joy Morris, 62.

In issuing the verdict, Justice Martha Devlin ordered Johnston confined to the hospital pending a hearing before the board. 

Terms of the board's order also include that he can leave the grounds under escort only and depending on his mental condition. He must also participate in any assessment or counselling and that he be subject to testing for alcohol, cannabis or unprescribed drugs.

Morris was found dead in her home in the outskirts of Vanderhoof, 100 kilometres west of Prince George, on March 10, 2020. Investigators concluded she had died on January 22, 2020, the victim of blunt force trauma.

Two days later, her son was arrested in Penticton and subsequently detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. Johnston was formally charged on April 10, 2020 and subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Devlin had agreed with a forensic psychiatrist's opinion that Johnson was "acutely psychotic" and "suffering from paranoid delusions and disorganized thought processes as a result of his schizophrenia," at the time of the offence.

The board's disposition took effect on the day it was ordered and can be reviewed within the following 12 months.