April Irving to remain at psychiatric centre while assessment is completed

By Lara Fominoff @LaraFominoff on Twitter
March 13, 2019 - 2:03pm Updated: March 14, 2019 - 10:25am

LETHBRIDGE - A 60-year-old woman facing more than a dozen charges related to animal cruelty and failure to appear in court, will remain at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre for another two weeks while her assessment is completed.

A Provincial Court judge ordered the tests back on Feb. 11. 

April Dawn Irving appeared in Lethbridge Provincial Court Wednesday, March 13 via CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre, where her lawyer Bjoern Wolkmann says a psychiatric assessment is underway but has not been completed.

Addressing Justice J. Maher, Wolkmann told him that the centre asked for a 30-day extension because one of the psychiatrists had been away for one month, however the defense was opposed to it. 

The Crown acknowledged that those circumstances had been unfortunate but doubted at first that the assessment could be completed in just two weeks.

Wolkmann told the court that it was already underway, and that it was likely to be completed within the time frame. He also told Justice Maher that Irving likely had some serious mental health issues which could result in her being held not criminally responsible or fit for trial.

Four requests were then presented to Justice Maher, that included she not be sent back to into the general population at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre upon completion of her testing, but to an approved health care facility because she had suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting in a concussion. Other issues included anxiety, her frailty and that she was elderly.

Irving's lawyer also said she had been waiting 57 days to see an orthopedic surgeon and that she needed to see a neurologist to assess or treat her concussion.

Justice Maher told Wolkmann while he was not prepared to recommend she see any specialists, she could remain at a health care facility.

She will be back in court March 27.

Case History

Irving is facing 13 charges, including cruelty to animals, causing suffering to animals, and failure to appear in court.

She was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals in 2014, after five dogs were found dead on a property near Milk River, along with more than 200 neglected animals that were seized.
The animals that were alive, were found dehydrated, starving and chained to stakes.

In 2014, an out of custody psychiatric assessment was ordered for Irving, but it was never completed. 

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