Kelowna man asks to remain in psychiatric hospital 'for the rest of his life'

Hospitalized for life?

A Kelowna man, who pled guilty to aggravated assault after stabbing his 64-year-old father two years ago, says he wants to stay in the provincial forensic psychiatric hospital “for the rest of his life.”

Dylan Jack Hipkin, 24, appearing by video link from the secure hospital in Coquitlam, said he has only felt safe in two places his entire life, his former childhood home in Alberta and the hospital.

He made the comment during his sentencing hearing in provincial court in Kelowna on Tuesday.

According to an agreed statement of facts, police responded to a 911 call at an apartment on Dell Road in Kelowna on Nov. 3, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. and found Hipkin’s father, Joseph, bleeding severely from a stab wound to his abdomen. A bloody knife was found at the scene.

Joseph was taken to Kelowna General Hospital and underwent multiple surgeries before a long recovery. He was released from the hospital three months later.

After the stabbing, Dylan fled the scene but was picked up by police nearby a short time later. The apprehending officers said he admitted to stabbing his father.

“The circumstances are tragic,” Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay told the court Tuesday.

Kaay explained to the court Dylan had a lengthy history of drug abuse and mental health issues, including using crystal meth and suffering from schizophrenia, has borderline personality disorder as well as stimulant and opioid disorders, and is on the autism spectrum.

He has had many interactions with the medical and legal system in recent years, including a 2019 conviction for arson at the housing complex where he was living at the time.

He plead guilty in that case to intentionally causing damage by fire to the apartment building on Pandosy Street and was sentenced to two years less a day in jail. In addition to the sentence, he was put on probation for two years with strict conditions.

While the fire caused $90,000 worth of damage and, according to the judge in that case, put the residents of the other 30 units in the building at risk, no one was hurt.

Fifteen months later, while still on probation, he stabbed his father.

Despite that, both his father and mother have stood by their son and his mother has been an advocate for better treatment for people like her son, who suffer from complex mental and drug addiction disorders. Both were in court on Tuesday.

In presenting two psychiatric reports on Dylan prepared for the court, Kaay said the doctors found him to be a “high risk for future violence.”

He asked for a total jail sentence of four years, a term described as being on the higher side for aggravated assault.

Defence counsel Michael Stephenson did not oppose the recommendation and said Dylan asked him not to recommend a specified sentence. He said helping Dylan will be a “challenge,” and noted finding accommodation will be a major issue once he is released from jail.

He said a plan needs to be in place to make sure Dylan takes his medication and admitted the judge is “in a difficult position” in making his sentencing ruling.

Judge David Ruse reserved sentencing for a week, saying he needed more time to re-read reports and give some thought to what he should do, given Dylan would be released in about eight months because of the time he has already served in custody if he accepts the four-year sentence recommendation.

He also noted the issue of where would Dylan will go after being released.

Dylan’s mother said outside the courtroom BC Housing will not let him return to one of its buildings because of the arson conviction, and a possible treatment facility in the Lower Mainland requires an Interior Health recommendation, something that was attempted in the past but went nowhere. She, the judge, the prosecution and the defence all agreed Dylan needs medication and treatment for his mental disorders and drug use.

Kaay said there is also a concern for Dylan’s family members if he was to live with them and asked the judge to prohibit that, for their safety.

In addition to the four-year sentence recommendation, Kaay also asked for a longer, three-year, probation period with many of the same stringent conditions included in the arson probation order.

All of that appeared to leave Ruse in a difficult position.

“Mr. (Dylan) Hipkin clearly is not doing himself any favours with his inability to make progress with the therapy available to him,” said the judge.

“We are weighing rehabilitation to the point where we are minimizing the significant risk,” he said.

Dylan told the court he would like to stay in the hospital for the rest of his life when the judge asked him if he had anything to say.

Looking slightly disheveled, with unkempt hair, a beard and wearing a blue sweatshirt, he listened quietly to the proceedings via the video link and took a long pause before answering the judge. He said that was all he had to say.

Outside the court, Dylan’s mother, Cary, said being in the hospital is good for him.

She said B.C. needs better services for people like her son, who need to be in the hospital and need help. Her son has had problems his entire life and she worries what will happen when he is released at the end of his sentence.

“If people were treated with respect for the better—special needs and all—there would be more love in the world,” she said.

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