Warning: This article contains disturbing details.
A Duncan man who killed his younger brother in the midst of a psychotic break stood before a B.C. Supreme Court justice Friday and said he had chosen to live for himself and his brother.
Justice Jeanne Watchuk found Daniel Coogan not criminally responsible as a result of a mental disorder in the killing of his brother in their Duncan apartment nearly two years prior.
“There is nothing I can say that will change what has happened in this situation but there is something I can do, and that is to continue on my path with treatment and better understand myself and my mental health,” Coogan said.
On May 4, 2019, around 12:30 a.m., the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP was called to an apartment building in the 3200-block of Cowichan Lake Road for a report of a fight in progress inside the unit the brothers shared.
Finn Coogan, 23, was found dead in the apartment with multiple lacerations and an edged weapon sticking out of his chest. Coogan was charged with one count of second-degree murder in his brother’s death.
Coogan had a history of health issues, drug use and mental health disorders, Watchuk said. Evidence from past counselling sessions revealed Coogan frequently heard voices, and in the months leading up to the attack, the voices became increasingly aggressive, depriving him of his ability to determine right from wrong.
He was also using drugs such as ketamine, marijuana and cocaine.
Multiple experts said Coogan met the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia and testified that both before and during the attack, he was likely in a psychotic state.
That night, Coogan had worked his job at a Shell station before returning home to the apartment around 11:30 p.m. Watchuk referred to evidence that a customer at the Shell station was so concerned by Coogan’s dishevelled and withdrawn appearance that she called the store’s managers the following day.
When Coogan arrived home, he visited with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend in the living room before going to his bedroom, where he did two lines of ketamine in order to ‘quiet the voices in his head’ and attempted to sleep.
According to testimony from the victim’s girlfriend, Coogan got into an altercation with his brother shortly after. The fight involved a weapon that may have been a machete.
The girlfriend, who was not named, said she ran to the balcony while the altercation was occurring. She witnessed some of the attack and said Coogan looked angry and his eyes were “super, super dark.” His voice had been reduced to a “deep growl.” She could hear Finn telling his brother, that “he loved him so much.”
When RCMP arrived, the girlfriend was at a neighbouring apartment. Police entered and discovered Finn’s body on the floor. When Coogan came out of his bedroom, he followed their orders and was taken into custody.
He told RCMP that he couldn’t recall what had happened.
“I was not the one in the driver’s seat,” he told police. “I can’t say how it happened, because if I knew how it happened, then I probably would have done something to stop it.”
Coogan told police that he had thought he was dreaming until they arrived at the apartment.
In her ruling, Watchuk said, “his mental disorder rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature … of his acts or knowing they were wrong.”
Coogan’s parents were in the courtroom Friday and both expressed their gratitude for the verdict. The brothers were close they said, and Finn would have wanted his brother to get treatment.
“We have complete belief that Dan would never knowingly harm anybody, let alone his brother,” said his father, Tim Coogan.
Coogan will be remanded into the custody of a forensic psychiatric facility. A review board will determine the duration of his treatment.
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