Nova Scotia, CANADA – A schizophrenic man who was found not guilty of murdering his wife by reason of insanity has been awarded the entirety of her life insurance policy.
Justice Frank Edwards – the same judge who ruled that the defendant was not criminally liable for the murder – also ruled that the defendant should inherit the policy, the Daily Mail reported.
According to court records, 42-year-old Richard Maidment – who also goes by the name of Richard MacNeil – was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2012, CTV News reported.
In April of 2017, his health began deteriorating dramatically, to the point that his wife, Sarabeth Forbes, opted to move out of their Gardiner Mines home, taking their then-eight-year-old son with her, according to CBC News.
On April 18, 2017, shortly after she moved out, Forbes stopped by Maidment’s residence, the Daily Mail reported.
During the visit, Maidment pulled out a gun and fatally shot Forbes from behind.
He was charged with first-degree murder, but Edwards ultimately found him not guilty by way of insanity.
Edwards ruled that Maidment was not criminally responsible for killing his wife because he was incapable of knowing his actions were wrong due to his mental disorder, the Global News reported.
Maidment was subsequently committed to the East Coast Forensic Hospital.
Back in July of 2015, Forbes took out a life insurance policy on herself and named Maidment as the primary beneficiary, Global News reported.
The policy also named Forbes’ mother, Emeline Forbes, as a trustee for their young son – the contingent beneficiary – in the event both Forbes and Maidment died before the child turned 25 years old.
Emeline, who has been caring for the boy since Forbes’ murder, applied for the insurance money on her grandson’s behalf, CBC News reported.
But Maidment’s mother, Linda McNeil, applied for the funds on Maidment’s behalf.
Due to the competing claims, Co-Operators Life Insurance Company cut a check to the court and left it up to Edwards to determine who the recipient would be.
The policy’s worth has not been disclosed.
On Jan. 16, Edwards ruled that the funds will go to Maidment instead of to Forbes’ child.
“There is a public policy rule which says criminals should not be permitted to benefit from their crimes,” the judge wrote in his decision, according to CBC News. “That public policy rule has no application to this case. Richard has been found to be not criminally responsible. He is not a criminal.”
“While the particular circumstances leading to Sarabeth’s death are fortunately uncommon, the inherent unpredictability, illness and loss are squarely what life insureds seek to guard their loved ones against by purchasing a life insurance policy,” Edwards noted, according to Global News.
“Both Sarabeth and Richard, as well as their families, tragically fell victim to Richard’s schizophrenia,” he added.
Forbes’ friends said they were “sickened” to learn that her killer was awarded the money instead of her son, CBC News reported.
“Just a gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of your stomach that this can’t be real, this can’t be happening,” said Forbes’ coworker, Valerie Youden. “But now it’s happened twice.”
“If you’re not responsible for her death, he shouldn’t be [considered] responsible enough to get the money,” Youden added.
Another friend, Terri Spooney, said that Forbes would be “devastated” to know that the cash hadn’t gone to her son.
“I know [Maidment] has a mental illness, but he still chose to brutally [kill] Sarabeth, and we all have choices in life, and he made that one,” Spooney told CBC News.