Brian Whitlock charged with second-degree murder
By Brittney MacDonald, Staff Writer
On November 9, Vancouver resident Brian Whitlock was apprehended and later charged with the murder of a woman, revealed to be his mother, Barbara Whitlock. The murder took place in the home they shared near the Dunbar area.
According to Constable Brian Montague in a media address, a relative who entered the home found Barbara’s body and proceeded to contact police. Police response was followed by an eight-hour standoff between Brian and the Vancouver Police Department, in which negotiation attempts were made. The emergency response team eventually okayed the use of non-lethal tactical weaponry to subdue Brian.
Brian was the perpetrator of a 2012 animal cruelty case in which he plead guilty to beating his two-year-old German Shepherd, Captain, with a baseball bat, leaving the dog in a dumpster while still alive. The animal later died due to the injuries it sustained.
The case garnered a lot of publicity and was closely followed by the media. Many spectators were outraged when Whitlock received a 60-day sentence, with the 53 days he had already spent awaiting trial counting as time served. Whitlock was also recommended for treatment of his mental illness rather than a mandatory hospital committal. During the course of the trial, the defence argued that Whitlock suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and asked for some leniency given his mental instability.
A mental health care worker and former union representative who wishes to remain nameless criticized Whitlock’s original sentence, stating, “The sentence was a joke. Anyone could see that someone capable of doing that to an animal they claim to love was dangerous. Should we be surprised now to see he’s hurt a person?
“The court would like you to believe … that as soon as mental illness is a factor, they can’t do anything. It’s not true, there is always [the option of] community committal.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association website, community committal is described as being a form of involuntary treatment. The website states those who suffer any form of mental illness are not always capable of making clear decisions and may refuse additional aid provided to them. There is also the risk that those with mental illness could be a threat to themselves. The website suggests “community committal” as a healthy alternative to avoid “involuntary hospitalization.” However, the success of community committal is dependent on the involvement of friends and family of the sufferer.
Despite Whitlock’s previously light sentence, it is unclear if Whitlock’s actions could have been prevented. Whitlock’s next court appearance is slated for November 24.