Antidepressant gets blame for bank robbery — (Winnipeg Sun)

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Winnipeg Sun

By Dean Pritchard, Winnipeg Sun

The son of Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh has been found not criminally responsible for robbing a bank after a judge agreed he was suffering from delirium after weaning himself off a prescribed antidepressant.

But Justice Rick Saull rejected a defence recommendation that Gordon Elijah Muller Mackintosh be granted an absolute discharge for the April 2012 robbery and instead referred the case to the Criminal Code Review Board, the government body responsible for making or reviewing the sentences of people found not criminally responsible for their actions.

“The facts of this case are very concerning to me,” Saull said. “I’d be much more comfortable from the standpoint of the interests of the accused and the interests of the public … if this matter were dealt with by the review board.”

According to an agreed statement of facts submitted to court, Mackintosh, then 22, entered the Assiniboine Credit Union on McPhillips Street wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a fake moustache. He approached a teller with a note demanding money and indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase. Mackintosh was given $100, approached another staff member for a phone number, then left the bank.

At a hearing last month, Barbara Mackintosh, Gordon’s mother, told court her son picked her up from work later that day and did not appear himself.

“Gordie wasn’t really saying anything,” she said. “He was pale … almost ghost-like. His eyes were glazed.”

Barbara Mackintosh said she was reading the Winnipeg Sun about a month later when she saw what she thought was her son’s picture in a “most wanted” story.

“I had the picture, I said ‘Gordie, is that you?’ He said ‘It’s not me, mom, it couldn’t be.'” Barbara showed the picture to her husband and they confronted their son again. The next day, Gordon turned himself in to police.

Court heard in the weeks prior to the bank robbery, Gordon — at his doctor’s direction — had been weaning himself off Effexor, an anti-depressant.

“This was delirium brought on by the reduction in Effexor,” said Gordon’s lawyer Josh Weinstein. “It is a documented side-effect.”

Gordon was reducing his drug dosage at the same time as he was preparing for university exams, possibly compounding the withdrawal symptoms, a psychiatrist wrote in a report submitted to court.

dean.pritchard@sunmedia.ca