MONTREAL – Jonathan Gamez-Arias, the suspect in a foiled kidnapping in Jeanne-Mance Park this past May, has been found not criminally responsible (NCR).
On May 21, Gamez-Arias, 24, entered Jeanne-Mance Park via de l’Esplanade Avenue and tried to grab a seven-year-old girl who was at the park with her family.
Jonathan Gamez-Arias charged with attempted kidnapping at Jeanne-Mance Park
Suspect in custody after attempted kidnapping in Jeanne-Mance Park
NCR: what does the Not Criminally Responsible mean?
A family member intervened and held onto the suspect who only managed to run a few metres. Bystanders, including former Montreal Canadiens Georges Laraque, quickly jumped in to assist and helped restrain the suspect until police arrived.
READ MORE: Jonathan Gamez-Arias charged with attempted kidnapping at Jeanne-Mance Park
The verdict was handed down on June 29, after Gamez-Arias underwent a court-mandated psychiatric evaluation at the Pinel Institute, Montreal’s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.
Steve Hanafi, who represented Gamez-Arias in court, confirmed his client suffers from schizophrenia and said the incident was no more than a cry for help.
“He meant no harm to the girl.” Hanafi said. “He just wanted help.”
READ MORE: LIST: Canada’s prominent not criminally responsible (NCR) cases
Gamez-Arias was facing up to 10 years in jail if found guilty but the NCR verdict means he cannot be prosecuted.
“It’s the equivalent of being acquitted.” Hanafi explained.
However, Gamez-Ariaz was ordered to undergo treatment at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal and will be detained there indefinitely.
His release though could come as soon as August, if he is deemed fit at his 45-day evaluation. Subsequent evaluations will be performed on a yearly basis.