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Man accused in triple stabbing in Chinatown makes court appearance

Blair Evan Donnelly, shown here in a court sketch at top right, appeared in Vancouver provincial court on  Sept. 15, 2023, on three charges of aggravated assault. (Sheila Allan - image credit)
Blair Evan Donnelly, shown here in a court sketch at top right, appeared in Vancouver provincial court on Sept. 15, 2023, on three charges of aggravated assault. (Sheila Allan - image credit)

The man accused of stabbing three people at a festival in Chinatown last weekend made an appearance in Vancouver provincial court on Friday.

Blair Evan Donnelly, 64, is charged with three counts of aggravated assault from what police have described as an unprovoked attack on complete strangers attending the Light Up Chinatown festival on Sunday.

A publication ban has been placed on evidence presented during Donnelly's bail hearings.

Donnelly appeared by video, looking dishevelled in a red shirt with a blue overshirt draped over his shoulders. His face bore a blank expression throughout the hearing.

He is accused of stabbing three people while out on a day pass from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, where he has lived since he was found not criminally responsible for killing his 16-year-old daughter in 2006.

On Thursday, Premier David Eby announced that he has appointed former Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich to conduct an independent review of the decision to grant Donnelly an unescorted day pass.

The premier citing an April 2023 document from the B.C. Review Board, published by CHEK News, said Donnelly has a "pattern of rapid decompensation and violence in the past," including another two stabbings since he arrived at the hospital.

That includes a 2009 incident when Donnelly "suddenly" stabbed a friend after doing cocaine while out on a day pass. Donnelly was convicted of assault with a weapon and sentenced to 45 days in jail for the attack, according to the review board.

He also attacked a fellow patient with a butter knife in 2017 and was subsequently found not criminally responsible on a charge of assault.

The review decision says, "The accused has re-offended after long periods of remission between violent episodes and without any significant warning signs. ... Therefore, a cautious approach is necessary to protect the public."

Eby said Thursday that he wants Rich to look into "how a violent, psychotic individual was released into the community."

Donnelly's next court date is Sept. 27. The three victims of the Chinatown attack — a couple in their 60s and a woman in her 20s — have all been released from hospital.