National Newswatch

TORONTO — A man who has become at least the third detained patient to disappear from a Toronto mental health treatment centre in the past month has a long history of sexual offences against strangers and is considered a risk to the public, documents on his case show.

Anthony Murdock, who walked away from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Tuesday, was found not criminally responsible on a sexual assault charge in 2002 and was also previously convicted counts of forcible confinement and sexual assault.

According to documents from the Ontario Review Board — which conducts annual assessments of those found not criminally responsible — all of the offences involved unknown women and, in one case, at least one young girl.

"It appears that given the constellation of diagnoses that he has, that he is predisposed to aggressive and disinhibited sexual behaviours," the board wrote following Murdock's last review in December 2018.

The board said Murdock, 45, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and borderline intellectual functioning, and has a history of substance abuse. It deemed him a "significant risk to the public" at his last review and ordered him to live in CAMH's forensic unit.

The assessment and ruling mirror those handed down for two other CAMH residents who fled the facility earlier in the month.

Zhebin Cong, found not criminally responsible for the 2014 death of his roommate, left the country on July 3 and remains at large.

Ahmed Sualim walked away from CAMH while on an accompanied pass last week, but was back in custody hours later. He had been found not criminally responsible on multiple charges stemming from a string of armed robberies in 2012.

Murdock was last seen at the centre on Tuesday afternoon and captured on surveillance cameras not far away later in the day, according to Toronto police. The force issued a statement alerting the public to his disappearance hours later, and he remains at large.

CAMH said Murdock "violated the terms" of a staff-escorted pass while on hospital grounds, but did not provide further details. 

The centre has previously announced both an internal and external review of protocols around patient passes and privileges, acknowledging that the disappearances of Cong and Sualim were causing public concern.

It defended the use of community passes on Wednesday describing them as an important part of the care a patient receives and "proven to support rehabilitation and recovery for those who live with mental disorders."

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he had been in touch with the centre to offer help addressing the issues around the recent disappearances.

"This latest incident involving yet another patient at the same facility raises further questions about how CAMH, and other healthcare providers, along with our justice system work to ensure our community is safe," Tory said.

Records from the Ontario Review Board indicate Murdock has a lengthy criminal history dating back to at least 1998.

His various convictions include one count of sexual assault in Surrey, B.C. Board records show he approached two high school students, bit one on the neck and sexually assaulted her. Documents show he reappeared at the students' high school days later.

Murdock was back in Ontario by the following year and was convicted of various indecent acts in the Greater Toronto Area, board documents show.

In 2001, he was convicted of forcible confinement after approaching a young girl in a Mississauga, Ont., shopping mall with her grandmother.

"Mr. Murdock explained that the girl looked like an 'angel,'" the board documents state. "He walked into the store and placed the girl on his shoulders and spun her around until her grandmother yelled at him to put her down."

Months after being convicted in that incident, records show Murdock approached an unknown woman walking on a street, whistled at her and asked her to come over to him. When she did not comply, he followed her and sexually assaulted her, documents show.

He was found not criminally responsible on the ensuing sexual assault charge in March 2002. 

Murdock had previously lived in the community, but was admitted to CAMH in late 2017. During that time, board documents show one female patient complained about inappropriate contact.

He was briefly released to a supervised mental health residence but was ordered detained at CAMH once more last December.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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