Police say a second CAMH patient found NCR of violent crimes briefly went missing
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at 250 College St. is pictured in this file image.
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:19PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 23, 2019 7:05PM EDT
TORONTO -- Another man convicted of violent criminal offences and deemed to pose a significant risk to the public managed to briefly escape from a Toronto mental health treatment facility where he was being detained, police said Tuesday, confirming it was the second such incident this month.
Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said 27-year-old Ahmed Sualim, who was found "not criminally responsible" for a string of 2012 armed robberies and thefts, is now back in the custody of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
His absence lasted a few hours, unlike the disappearance of fellow CAMH resident Zhebin Cong who managed to walk away from the Centre and flee the country without raising any alarms.
Cong's escape, reported to the public nearly two weeks after it happened, drew widespread public criticisms and even the ire of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who demanded answers from officials with both the police force and treatment centre.
Sidhu said police announced Sualim's disappearance and flagged him as a potential public safety threat the same day he was reported missing. But she said that a previously announced review of internal processes will include a closer look at how incidents involving CAMH are shared with the public.
"We are working on revising current procedures," Sidhu said in a telephone interview. "We are working on what the best practice is going forward with regard to people that are reported missing from CAMH."
Sidhu said Sualim was last seen at 10:30 a.m. Monday, reported missing by CAMH later that day, and back in the centre's custody by 6:30 the same evening.
CAMH did not respond to questions about Sualim's disappearance or the circumstances surrounding it.
Last week, as word of Cong's disappearance prompted consternation in Ontario's political ranks, CAMH said it took the incident very seriously and had launched an internal review with special emphasis on reassessing all patient passes and privileges.
Both Cong and Sualim were living on CAMH's secured forensic unit after courts ruled their mental illnesses rendered them "not criminally responsible" of violent offences.
Details of their crimes and subsequent assessments are contained in records from the Ontario Review Board, which conducts annual assessments of anyone with an NCR designation.
Cong, 47, killed his roommate with a meat cleaver in 2014 and was found NCR on a charge of second-degree murder as a result of his mental illness, board documents show.
He was out in the community on a short-term pass when he made his escape on July 3. Police have indicated he boarded an international flight, but have not disclosed his destination. An investigation into his disappearance remains open.
Ontario Review Board records on Sualim paint a picture of a man grappling with schizophrenia and a history of substance abuse.
Court documents show those issues were at play in January 2012 when he committed a rash of armed robberies at Toronto-area stores and hotels, often making off with significant quantities of cash or valuable pieces of jewelry. He was ultimately found NCR on five counts each of armed robbery and theft over $5,000.
Documents from Sualim's most recent review board hearing, held this past April, noted that he had been living at CAMH for the past eight months. During that time, records show he walked away without permission twice while out in the community on accompanied passes.
Hospital personnel speaking at Sualim's hearing felt he did not fully understand the rules he was obliged to follow and noted that he had a history of failing to comply with his treatment program by skipping medications and using alcohol or cannabis, the report said.
The board accepted a joint submission from both Sualim and the treatment team stating that he posed a "significant threat to the safety of the public."
"When acutely psychotic and disinhibited, he will become frustrated with his lack of financial means and inability to obtain material goods," the report reads. "This would very likely result in engaging in criminal activity....There is also a risk that Mr. Sualim would engage and react in violence against members of his family."
Security at CAMH became a political topic last week when Ford called a Toronto talk radio program to deliver a tirade about Cong's escape and subsequent departure from Canada.
Calling the man a "nutcase," Ford vowed to get answers from all organizations involved.