So it’s life in the stony lonesome for would-be VIA rail bombers Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, and yet another handsome paycheque for the estimable Dr. Philip Klassen.
Dr. Phil’s expert opinion helped nail shut the booby hatch for the bonkers Esseghaier, who livened up his sentencing with more of his trademark unhinged tirades, punctuated with displays of spitting and at one point beaning his long-suffering legalist with a cup of water. (“I am similar to the prophet Jesus and the prophet Joseph,” he explained. “I just throw the cup at his face because he is lying.”)
A bravura performance, and another forensic psychiatrist who actually examined him, Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, concluded he was schizophrenic and unfit to stand trial. Not so, quoth Dr. Phil, who had to rely on Ramshaw’s transcripts and other docs because Esseghaier wouldn’t see him.
Diagnosis: “grandiose and paranoid delusions,” and “a serious mental disorder”, sure, but “he’s aware that he’s being tried pursuant to the Criminal Code, and seems to have an awareness of the elements of the court process.”
In short, batshit, but not too batshit for the ol’ lockup. It’s hardly surprising that Dr. Phil has become one of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s go-to forensic fruitcake-tasters, a shrink who can usually be relied upon to reach a Crown-friendly conclusion in the assessment of kooky defendants.
Nothing is 100 per cent, of course. In the case of Richard Kachkar, the whackadoo who killed Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell with a snow plow in 2011, Klassen was hired by the Crown but ended up testifying for the defence that Kachkar was cuckoo for Cocoa PuffsTM at the time of the attack. Kachkar was found not criminally responsible.
Such occasional lapses aside, Dr. Phil generally delivers for the prosecution and, in addition to the take from his day jobs at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences and U of T, his top-ups from the AG grow juicier every year:
5-YEAR TOTAL: $725,015
(SOURCE: Public Accounts of Ontario)