A Cape Breton man who was found not criminally responsible for killing his wife is entitled to receive 100 per cent of her life insurance policy, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has ruled.
Richard Maidment, 42, who also uses the surname McNeil, killed Sarabeth Forbes on April 18, 2017, in the home they shared in Gardiner Mines, N.S.
Maidment has schizophrenia and his mental health had been deteriorating dramatically in the days before the killing. Forbes and their son, then 10 years old, had moved out of the residence as a precaution the day before.
But on the morning of April 18 she returned to the home, where she was killed.
Maidment was charged with first-degree murder, but in December 2017 was found not criminally responsible and confined to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia's only secure psychiatric facility.
In 2015, Forbes had purchased a life insurance policy for herself naming Maidment as the beneficiary. She named their son as an alternate beneficiary.
Maidment's mother, Linda McNeil, claimed the insurance money on behalf of her son.
Forbes's mother, Emeline Forbes, who is now raising the couple's son, applied for the insurance money on his behalf.
Because there were competing claims, Co-operators Life Insurance Company paid the claim to the court and left it to a judge to decide.
In a decision released Thursday, Justice Frank Edwards ruled the money should go to Maidment, not his son. The decision does not disclose the amount of the payout.
"There is a public policy rule which says criminals should not be permitted to benefit from their crimes," Edwards wrote.
"That public policy rule has no application to this case. Richard has been found to be not criminally responsible. He is not a criminal."
Edwards is the same judge who found Maidment not criminally responsible for the killing, an event he describes as "an unspeakably horrendous and tragic event for everyone involved."
Friends say money should be in trust
Friends of Forbes said they were "sickened" to hear about the ruling and that it took them back to the day they learned of Forbes's death.
"Just a gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach that this can't be real, this can't be happening. But now it's happened twice," said Valerie Youden, who worked with Forbes at Parkland, a senior's home in Sydney, N.S. Forbes also worked as a teacher's assistant at an elementary in nearby Reserve Mines.
"I know he has a mental illness, but he still chose to brutally [kill] Sarabeth, and we all have choices in life, and he made that one," said Spooney, another friend and co-worker, adding Forbes would be "devastated" if she knew he'd received the money instead of her son.
Both women believe Forbes would have wanted the money to go to her son's future.
'Heart bigger than life itself'
Youden considers the situation a failure of the justice system.
"If you're not responsible for her death, he shouldn't be [considered] responsible enough to get the money," she said.
She and Spooney said they try to focus on memories of Forbes instead of her death. They said there's rarely a day at work that either a client or co-worker doesn't refer to her fondly.
"She was always smiling, always laughing, a bubbly personality, and would do anything for anybody. She had a heart bigger than life itself," said Spooney.
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