A Toronto-area man found to be not criminally responsible when he killed his wife is entitled to collect her life insurance benefits, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled.
After a history of hospitalization and suicide attempts,Ved Dhingra killed Kamlesh Dhingra, 56, in her Richmond Hill home on June 15, 2006.
Related: Man who killed wife canâ??t cash her $50,000 life insurance
Two years later, Ved Dhingra, then 66, was found not criminally responsible for second-degree murder because he suffered from a schizoaffective disorder.
His son Paul Dhingra, administrator of his motherâ??s estate, challenged an insurance companyâ??s decision to pay his father a death benefit of $51,000 and asked that it go to the estate instead.
Last year, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled Ved Dhingra wasnâ??t entitled to the money. Although he was found not criminally responsible, â??he still physically committed the crime,â?? wrote Justice Andra Pollak.
On Tuesday, the provinceâ??s highest court overturned Pollakâ??s ruling, saying the â??public policy rule at issueâ?? â?? that a criminal should not be able to profit from crime â?? does not apply in this case.
â??If a person found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder is not â??morally responsibleâ?? for his or her act, there is no rationale for applying the rule of public policy,â?? a three-judge panel decided.
The judge erred when she found Ved Dhingra had â??committed second-degree murder,â?? the court said.
The judges cited various case law examples, including a Supreme Court of Canada decision that someone not criminally responsible is not to be punished, but rather, â??Parliament has signalled that the NCR accused is to be treated with the utmost dignity and afforded the utmost liberty compatible with his or her situation.â??
Tuesday night, hours after returning to Toronto from an overseas trip, the coupleâ??s daughter, Lina Dhingra, said the high court has made a â??fair and sound decision.â?? She appealed the lower court ruling and represented her father in the court proceedings.
â??Itâ??s never been about the money,â?? she told the Star. â??Itâ??s that my father should be recognized as someone diagnosed with a mental illness, as one in five Canadians are. I hope this sets a precedent.â??
Her fatherâ??s illness was a nightmare for the family, and the sixth anniversary of her motherâ??s death is a particularly wrenching time, she said.
After being treated in the Whitby Mental Health Centre, Ved Dhingra was released into the community two years ago and is doing â??much better,â?? even doing volunteer work, his daughter said.
She says any money left over after legal fees would probably be divided among herself, her brother and his children. â??This was not initiated by my father,â?? she said.
Neither Paul Dhingra nor his lawyer, Vito Scalisi, could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Last year, Paul Dhingra told the Star his legal challenge was about seeking justice.
The appeal court ordered the money paid to a law firm in trust for Ved Dhingra, but stayed the order for 30 days to allow the attorney general time to decide if he wants to seek forfeiture of the funds.
Under the Civil Remedies Act, the attorney general can ask the courts to have â??proceeds of unlawful activityâ?? forfeited to the government, even if a person was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.