Freeman to be sent to psych facility

Prison officials had a locked-up "freeman" committed Monday, a move that will send the man to a secure psychiatric facility.

Prosecutor Stephen Lawhead was in provincial court Tuesday seeking an order to have medical records for Lance Edward Thatcher released to the Crown.

Lawhead told the court two doctors at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre signed the committal order. The man will be moved to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam at the first opportunity.

The prosecutor told the judge prison officials will not tell him why Thatcher was committed, and the documents provided to the Crown had the reasons for the committal blacked out.

Lawhead said KRCC requires a court order before it will release such medical records, even to the Crown.

Judge Stella Frame questioned whether she had authority to make such an order. Lawhead said the information would be useful in determining how to proceed but he withdrew his application pending further consideration.

Thatcher is likely to appear again in court Thursday, when he is scheduled to fix a date for his breach charges.

The Crown proved Thatcher's identity in court last week by calling his probation officer to testify.

In order to be involuntarily committed under the Mental Health Act, two doctors must certify a person suffers from a mental disorder, requires treatment and needs to be institutionalized for his own protection or the protection of others.

The committal is one more turn in the twisting story of the Merritt man who refuses to acknowledge his name, preferring instead to be called "Peaceful." While he has not described himself as a freeman on the land, his behaviour suggests he follows the ideology, which can be gleaned from Internet sources like the World Freeman Society's website.

Freemen claim to be sovereign. They believe they can refuse to be governed by Canada's laws and statutes. Many of them refuse to pay taxes, get driver's licences or register their vehicles.

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