The man who killed his mother with an axe over the Christmas holidays in 2020 has been found not criminally responsible for his actions.
The B.C. Supreme Court handed down its decision Thursday, May 5, in the case of Kevin Webster, who killed Moirin Webster on Dec. 27, 2020, in Gibsons.
RCMP officers arrived at the house at about 11:30 p.m. that night in response to a 911 call, and detained Kevin Webster who was at the front door speaking on the phone with a dispatcher, according to court records. His mother was found in a second-floor bedroom dead with “grievous wounds to the head” and a bloody axe on the pillow beside her.
Judge Geoffrey Gomery said, in his judgment, that Webster called police after the attack and “provided an account of the assault that includes details that could only have been known to the murderer or a witness” and “there is nothing at all to indicate” that anyone else was at the house.
A forensic psychiatrist told the court that Webster has “a well-established diagnosis of treatment refractory schizophrenia, as well as multiple substance use disorder,” though there is no evidence he consumed drugs or alcohol on the night of the killing and he was not intoxicated at the time of the crime.
Webster gave various accounts as to his reasons for the killing: fear that family members had a plan to murder him and steal his possessions, a response to being scolded for smoking in the living room, and the notion that he was “told” or compelled to kill.
“Webster’s thinking when he attacked his mother was psychotically driven. It was grounded in an entrenched paranoid belief that he was the target of a murderous conspiracy,” the judge said. “What is striking is that it was also uncertain and ambivalent. In simple terms, [he] did not know what to think.”
The court heard that in the weeks leading up to the killing, Webster had been in a residential care facility which “could not manage” his behaviour, discharged to a shelter and then “involuntarily” admitted to a hospital psychiatric ward before his mother took him in. On Christmas Day, two days before the killing, Webster stopped at a hospital twice asking to speak to a psychiatrist, then tried a third time, asking to see any doctor, but wouldn’t provide reasons for seeking care and left.
The judge said that not only was Webster “preoccupied by delusional beliefs” at the time of the crime, but his whole thinking process was irrational.
“His mental disorder had deprived him of the ability to know that his conduct was wrong,” the judge concluded.
Webster will remain in the custody at a psychiatric hospital pending a review board decision within 45 days.