Bus driver who fell in Laval, Que., day care center found fit to stand trial

Two children were killed when a city bus pulled up in front of a day care center in Laval on Wednesday February 8, 2023.  (Steve Rompré/Radio-Canada - photo credit)

Two children were killed when a city bus pulled up in front of a day care center in Laval on Wednesday February 8, 2023. (Steve Rompré/Radio-Canada – photo credit)

Pierre Ny St-Amand, the bus driver accused of intentionally ramming a day care center in Laval with a city bus, killing two children, is capable of standing in court but is being investigated to see if he can be criminally charged for his actions responsibility can be held.

St-Amand appeared in a courtroom in Laval on Friday, accompanied by four special police officers. His hair was trimmed and his eyes were open in stark comparison to his last appearance when he looked insane and disheveled.

A psychiatric evaluation ordered last week to determine if he was fit to stand trial concluded he was fit and able to understand the court proceedings.

“Today we received the report and it was clear to us and to the Crown that he was fit,” said Julien Lespérance Hudon, St-Amand’s lawyer. “As we saw, initially he had trouble communicating and responding to questions. Today, in the courtroom, he was much more present and able to understand what was going on.”

Charles Constant/CBC

Charles Constant/CBC

But Lespérance Hudon asked the judge to order another assessment to determine whether St-Amand could be held criminally responsible for his actions.

The evaluation will take place over the next 30 days at the Philippe Pinel Psychiatric Hospital in Montreal. Specialists will determine if St-Amand was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the crash that left him unable to understand what he was doing or know it was wrong.

Lespérance Hudon said some of the evidence led him to believe St-Amand was not in his right mind on the morning of February 8, preventing him from telling right from wrong.

He is next in court on March 28th.

On that day, when the report of his criminal liability is presented, the Crown and Defense may request additional opinions or assessments.

Ultimately, it will be up to the court to decide whether St-Amand is not criminally responsible.

If someone is found not to be criminally responsible, they are placed under the jurisdiction of a committee of inquiry, which monitors them while they are being treated, often in a psychiatric hospital.

On February 8, St-Amand, a transit bus driver from Laval, was behind the wheel of a bus that pulled into the Garderie Éducative de Sainte-Rose at around 8:30 a.m., just as parents were dropping off their children.

Two young children, Jacob Gauthier and Maëva David, died in the crash and six others were injured.

St-Amand faces two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon or assault.

When St-Amand appeared in court last week, he was accompanied by four special constables – an unusually high level of security for a prisoner. Two of them pinned his arms in the prisoner’s box while he stared ahead blankly.

At the time, Lespérance Hudon told the court that his client was only sometimes able to respond to questions and interact. Other times he was completely speechless when he was in the courtroom last Friday, the lawyer said.

The psychiatric examination, conducted by professionals at Montreal’s Philippe-Pinel Psychiatric Hospital, aimed to determine whether St-Amand’s mental state would allow him to understand what was happening during his trial. They decided he was capable of it.

The new assessment will focus on his mental state on the morning of the crash and whether he was able to understand his actions and distinguish right from wrong.


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