TORONTO — Bruce McArthur had a low risk for violence 15 years ago, says a recently released psychological report conducted after the now-accused serial killer assaulted a man with a pipe.
The 66-year-old self-employed landscaper accused of killing eight men with ties to the city’s gay village pleaded guilty in 2003 to two assault charges, and his lawyer at the time asked for a personality assessment prior to sentencing.
Dr. Marie-France Dionne interviewed McArthur several times at the North York General Hospital as part of her risk assessment of the man.
“We are confident to conclude that the risk for violence is very minimal,” she wrote in the report written on March 19, 2003 and filed with court.
She conducted two personality tests and concluded the two profiles were “within normal range.”
“There is no trace of psychosis, no trace of hallucinations or delusions, no trace of mood disorder and no trace of any personality disorder or antisocial behaviour,” Dionne wrote.
“As a matter of fact, Mr. McArthur is well oriented in space, time and toward people.”
Police allege McArthur went on to commit eight murders, the first one in 2010. Police have found the remains of seven men inside large planters located at an address where McArthur stored his landscaping equipment.
On Wednesday, Justice Leslie Chapin ruled to release the psychological and presentence report from the 2001 crime after a group of media organizations fought to have them made public.
The documents relate to McArthur’s attack against a man on Oct. 31, 2001. At the man’s apartment, McArthur beat him from behind with a metal pipe, slicing open a 13-centimetre gash in his head that required stitches and bashing the man’s hands, which needed six weeks of physiotherapy, the documents note.
The man called police after regaining consciousness. At the same time, McArthur turned himself in to police, saying he believed he committed a crime, but couldn’t remember what happened. He said he was on medication for controlling his epilepsy and was also high on amyl nitrate “poppers” that he liked to use before sex, the documents say.
The Crown attorney wanted jail time for McArthur, according to the presentence report, but changed his mind after reading the personality assessments. He received a conditional sentence for assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
The psychologist noted a few issues about McArthur during the course of her interviews and analysis of him.
“Mr. McArthur’s results suggest that he is characteristically passive and indecisive, but he may possess underlying resentments,” she wrote.
She also said “he is quite uncomfortable in situations calling for open anger and conflict. It is likely that this man lacks much insight into himself and others.”
Dionne also said that McArthur’s “over co-operativeness may hide strong rebellious feelings that may occasionally break through his front of propriety and restraint.”
She noted McArthur sought help for depression when he began exploring his sexuality and the corresponding dissolution of his marriage. He had seen a psychiatrist briefly and took the anti-depressant Prozac for about six months to a year in the late 1990s.
Dionne wrote that McArthur had a good relationship with his ex-wife and his two children, and was an active member of a church choir. McArthur’s parents died within three years during his late 20s. By 2003 McArthur had become open and accepting of his homosexuality, which he said he repressed since he was a child.
He dated a man for four years after his marriage ended.
“He wishes to have a stable and regular relationship one day, even if he was hurt in a relationship that ended,” said the report.
Dionne said McArthur was hopeful for the future and was trying to get into the landscaping business. Recently, Toronto police and cadaver dogs spent weeks scouring more than 100 properties in Ontario where McArthur did landscaping work.
McArthur is alleged to have killed Skandaraj Navaratnam, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.
McArthur is scheduled to appear in court on July 23.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press