Judge orders psychiatric evaluation for driver in Quebec daycare bus crash

Psych evaluation ordered

The man charged with killing two young children when the bus he was driving slammed into a daycare had to be helped into a Laval courtroom by corrections officers on Friday, where a judge ordered he undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Pierre Ny St-Amand's lawyer requested the evaluation, saying he has reason to question whether his client is mentally fit to stand trial due to an attitude that changes from day to day.

"Yesterday, I had a meeting with him that lasted about an hour and a half, and at that moment I judged ... he was fit to stand trial," Julien Lespérance Hudon told the judge. "This morning, as you see, I’m not able to enter into contact with him and to get answers from him."

St-Amand appeared to be struggling to walk and had his eyes closed as he entered the courtroom in Laval, a suburb north of Montreal. His demeanour was trancelike, and he showed no outward reaction to where he was or what was happening.

The 51-year-old driver with the Laval transit corporation was arrested last week after a bus crashed into the front of a daycare in the Ste-Rose neighbourhood, killing two four-year-olds and injuring six other children.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder as well as seven other charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Lespérance Hudon said two mental health professionals have also expressed concerns about his client, whose aptitude "comes and goes."

He also asked the judge to formally appoint him as St-Amand's lawyer, since he said he wasn't always able to get clear permission to represent him.

Quebec court Judge Carol Richer asked that the evaluation take place at the Philippe-Pinel psychiatric hospital before the case returns to court next Friday.

The court appearance comes one day after a funeral was held for four-year-old Jacob Gauthier, who died in the crash. Details of a service for the other victim, Maëva David, have not been announced.

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