MONTREAL — A Montreal man accused of viciously beating a 10-year-old girl who was walking home from school was ordered on Wednesday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his criminal responsibility at the time of the alleged offence.
Tanvir Singh, 21, was assessed by a psychiatrist one week ago following a court appearance and was determined fit to stand trial. But the psychiatrist's fitness report tabled in court Wednesday also recommended he be assessed for criminal responsibility.
In response, Quebec court Judge Pierre Labelle ordered a 30-day evaluation for Singh at a Montreal psychiatric hospital.
"While Mr. Singh is fit to stand trial, there are issues with his mental health which need to be investigated … to determine whether at the time of the commission of the alleged offence, Mr. Singh was indeed suffering from a mental disorder so as to exempt from criminal responsibility," Labelle told the court.
Singh is charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and possession of a weapon in an attack on a young victim in the city's east end on March 14. The attack occurred before noon when a man grabbed and punched the young victim multiple times.
Montreal police arrested the man after several bystanders moved in to stop the attack.
The girl, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Prosecutor Annabelle Sheppard has opposed bail in Singh's case.
"The first step today was to have the report from the psychiatrist and determine whether he was fit to stand trial," Sheppard said outside the courtroom, noting that assessing criminal responsibility takes a separate evaluation.
A fitness evaluation tries to determine whether a suspect is able to assist with their defence and communicate with their lawyer. A criminal responsibility evaluation assesses whether someone is responsible for what happened at the time of the event.
Sheppard noted that even if an accused is evaluated to be non-criminally responsible, it doesn't mean they are immediately released. The lawyer declined to give details, however, until more assessments are completed.
Family who attended the court appearance Wednesday did not speak to reporters, but they said last week the girl's condition was slowly improving.
A photo of her in hospital, with cuts across her face and her neck braced, was shared online by a family member to show the extent of her injuries.
The case will return to court on April 25.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press