The Bandura case: Accused 'acutely mentally ill'
The man who violently attacked a Roman Catholic bishop inside a downtown Kamloops rectory last fall was "acutely mentally ill" and violent toward prison guards in the days after the incident, court heard on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
John Bandura appeared via video in Kamloops provincial court for a hearing to determine whether he will be deemed not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder (NCRMD) for the Oct. 22 attack, which landed Roman Catholic Bishop David Monroe in hospital for nearly two months.
Bandura attacked Bishop David Monroe, 69, with a door from a microwave oven after forcing his way into the rectory at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Nicola Street.
At the time of the attack, police said Bandura was in the throes of a psychotic episode and had been having delusions regarding religion.
He was apparently checked in to Royal Inland Hospital's psychiatric ward hours before the incident, but left on his own accord later in the day.
Bandura was arrested hours following the attack after police found him hiding in a shed on his father's property.
Testifying at the hearing was Dr. Leeanne Meldrum, a psychiatrist at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Port Coquitlam, at which Bandura has been committed since Oct. 27.
Meldrum said the 30-year-old was "in very bad shape" and showing signs of severe psychosis when he arrived at FPH.
"He talked about being the son of God and being on a special admission," she said, adding Bandura was wearing a full-body shackle and a specialized helmet to prevent him from harming himself.
Court heard Bandura had assaulted six corrections officers prior to his arrival at the hospital.
Meldrum said she immediately upped Bandura's medication dosage, which he had started just over a week before the incident at Sacred Heart, and committed him under the Mental Health Act.
Bandura was diagnosed bipolar in 2005, but had been off medication since 2008.
Once he became more stable at FPH, Meldrum said she began talking with Bandura about the incident.
He was hearing voices at the time.
"There were that many voices in his head with indiscernible speaking that he felt like it was a stadium in his head," Meldrum said.
"That [hearing voices] hasn't been a typical presentation for him in the past."
Meldrum said Bandura was experiencing "psycho-motor agitation" in the hours leading up to the attack on Monroe, which began when he was at RIH earlier in the day.
"He felt a drive — an intense drive that he just had to get up and move and leave," she said.
Meldrum said Bandura has a history of becoming focused on religion — she described it as "intensely religiously preoccupied" — during his psychotic episodes, and that was the case in October.
She said he went to the church because he had gone there in the past and received help from a priest.
"He thinks he asked for help," she said.
"He has a feeling that help was denied to him. And then he said it was like a black sheet came over him."
Meldrum said there is no sign of what triggered the episode.
"I think it's just the natural course of Mr. Bandura's illness, coupled with the fact that he wasn't on medication to prevent future episodes," she said.
Court heard the voluntary admission to RIH in the hours leading up to the attack on Monroe followed two other attempts by Bandura's family to have him committed into hospitals in the Lower Mainland.
Meldrum said he went to Burnaby General Hospital on Oct. 15, where he was given low doses of anti-psychotic medication.
On Oct. 20, he went to Vancouver General Hospital and was not committed.
His girlfriend then brought him to Kamloops — where his family resides — in an attempt to have him committed at RIH.
Also on Tuesday, court was played a video recording of Bandura's police interview following his arrest.
On the video, Bandura seems obsessed with religion and baptism and makes a reference to having previously been "possessed by Satan."
He also says God wanted him to attack Monroe.
During the interview, Bandura said he stabbed Monroe in the neck with a pen and then drank his blood.
Court heard on Tuesday there was no physical evidence to support that claim.
The NCRMD hearing, before Kamloops provincial court Judge Sheri Donegan, concluded on Tuesday, but no decision has been made.
Bandura has already been found NCRMD by Meldrum, but it's ultimately up to the court to decide his fate.
If Donegan accepts the finding of NCRMD, Bandura's file will be turned over to the British Columbia Review Board for disposition.
If it's not accepted, he will enter a plea and the file will proceed as would any other criminal matter.
Donegan is expected to return with a decision on Feb. 24.