Two men from Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health south of St. Thomas arrested

By Ian McCallum, St. Thomas Times-Journal

Two “potentially dangerous” men missing from the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health south of St. Thomas were arrested in London.

They were arrested by London Police Service and handed over to Elgin OPP Monday afternoon.

Just before 4 p.m. Sunday, police were notified 27-year-old John Lebreton and 19-year-old Robert Gosnell were unlawfully at large.

Their disappearance has Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek raising concerns for safety in the community.

“Many questions need to be answered,” Yurek stated Monday in a release.

“How did they escape? Were they out on a day pass? On the highway smoking? Or did the internal state-of-the-art security system fail? The community deserves answers to these questions.”

The Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health opened in June, 2013 after the closure of the old mental health hospital in St. Thomas on Sunset Rd. Since it’s opening, there have been security and safety issues raised by community members and staff, according to Yurek.

“My office received daily phone calls and e-mails from residents who were concerned about the general safety of patients, the public and motorist due to some of the hospital’s policies” said Yurek. “I was always assured that these issues were being addressed and that safety was the number one priority.”

“The escape of these two patients is very concerning. It is my expectation that a full investigation will be completed and the report will be shared with our community. The hospital needs to reassure the public that steps have been taken to ensure this failure in the system does not happen again,” stressed Yurek

All patients wear a hi-tech wristband that uses radio frequencies to track where everyone is at all times within the facility. If they try to take them off, an alarm will sound. If they leave without permission, security will know right away.

The bands include a fob set — a type of security token– to automatically unlock some doors but not others. Which ones depend upon the patient and their readiness to have more freedom.

To safeguard privacy, a patient’s fob will work only on his own bedroom.

The building is designed with the fobs in mind: Locked doors separate a patient’s home in a cluster of bedrooms from an area where there are therapeutic services, and beyond that are recreational opportunities.

The fobs don’t track patients who leave the forensic centre entirely.

Elgin OPP had warned both men were considered potentially dangerous.