October 28th, 2020

Psych assessment ordered for arson suspect


By Shurtz, Delon on May 27, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A psychological assessment as been ordered for a 27-year-old woman accused of starting a fire earlier this month in the downtown area.

Lethbridge lawyer Vincent Guinan told a judge Tuesday that, after speaking with Mary-Lee Roy Parks, he concluded she should have the forensic assessment under Sec. 672 of the Criminal Code.

The section states the court may order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial, or was, at the time of the commission of the alleged offence, suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility.

Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles was expected to apply for the assessment, and said the defence application is not surprising given the accused’s “mental health issues.”

Guinan explained Parks is “under the impression” she is going to receive a large sum of money from the Canadian military and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. And while he said he doesn’t necessarily disbelieve her, he’s concerned about her state of mind and her ability to instruct him.

Guinan added he would be uncomfortable proceeding on her behalf, based on her instructions, until she has been assessed.

The assessment, which is conducted at the Southern Alberta Forensic psychiatry Centre in Calgary, normally takes 30 days, but may be extended. During the assessment Parks will remain in custody. Her matter is scheduled to return to court June 23.

Parks, who appeared in court by closed-circuit TV from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, is charged with arson, drug possession and breach of an undertaking. She is accused of starting a fire near a Lethbridge business May 13.

Police responded to a fire at the Umami Shop in the 800 block of 4 Avenue South, and discovered that during the early morning hours wood pallets and cardboard piled up against the building had been lit on fire.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, but not before it caused about $6,000 worth of damage to the store and overhead Telus lines. A suspect was identified through security video footage and arrested without incident the following morning. The suspect was also caught with an unspecified amount of methamphetamine.

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