Not criminally responsible, defence says in B.C. courthouse stabbing case

Accused was 'delusional'

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be distressing to some readers.

A woman accused of a stabbing in a B.C. Supreme Court hearing room should be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, her lawyer told a Vancouver provincial court judge Dec. 5.

Qin Qin Shen is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose in connection with a May 25, 2021, incident at the Vancouver Law Courts.

Lawyer Scott Wright told Judge Kathryn Denhoff that Shen, a university-educated immigrant from China, had been experiencing delusions and auditory hallucinations prior to the alleged assault on Jing Lu.

“It was the delusion fears that led Ms. Shen to attack Ms. Lu,” Wright said.

“Ms. Shen ought to be convicted of the lesser offence of aggravated assault instead of attempted murder,” Wright said. “Her mental disorder led to hearing voices that this was the right thing to do, that this was not wrong.”

Wright said "she was scared of the voices."

“She said she heard the voices and didn’t say ‘no.’ She said she didn’t have any alternative,” the defence lawyer told the court.

Shen sat in the prisoner’s dock listening to submissions on headphones, via an interpreter.

The women had reportedly been online rivals for years and had been feuding personally and legally. They had first met in online meeting rooms but things became heated.

Shen began to fear for her life and that of her son; she claimed Lu was stalking her. At some point, she began carrying a hammer and a knife.

The women had been involved in a civil law case where Shen became convinced the B.C. Supreme Court judge and Lu had conspired against her. Wright said her mental deterioration stemmed from that case.

“The lawsuit took over her life,” Wright said.

She believed Lu wanted to kill her son and boil him in oil and had told her she “would die badly,” Wright said.

The case stems from an incident in a court hearing room. Sheriffs were called to a panic button and found two women on the ground, one of them with multiple injuries, the other in handcuffs.

Sheriffs testified to seeing a large amount of blood in the courtroom and finding a knife and a hammer.

Wright said she had consumed a bottle of wine before going to court.

Deputy Sheriff Kulvinder Bagri, a first-aid attendant, checked to see if the injured woman was conscious and breathing. He found lacerations and puncture wounds. He said she did not regain consciousness in the 15 to 20 minutes before emergency health services arrived.

In testifying before the court Oct. 13, psychiatrist Dr. Garen Gharakhanian said Shen could not understand the wrongfulness of her acts. 

“She was psychotic,” he told Denhoff under questioning from Wright. “She felt justified in what she did.”

Denhoff has also heard Shen has been certified five times in the past as a danger to herself or others. Her diagnosis includes late onset schizophrenia and psychotic depression.

Gharakhanian testified Shen is unable to remember the events, having experienced a “red out.” The psychiatrist said that can happen when someone is under extreme stress and emotion.

Wright said several psychiatrists have examined Shen. He said their diagnoses differ but all agreed she had a mental disorder.

The trial was suspended for a period in early July after Shen was attacked in jail and required surgery.

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