June 30, 2022 – The Wicks story has taken several turns on the legal front, marked by a stark imbalance of power between Island Health, a B.C. Provincial Court judge and the Wicks. Eileen Wicks, still confined to a hospital room, is currently without legal representation, and another court hearing about Island Health’s request for a publication ban order is scheduled for June 30, 2022.
Eileen’s husband Trevor Wicks got a phone call from Eileen’s lawyer on June 1, 2022 saying he was withdrawing his services immediately. Lawyer Patrick McGowan explained that he and his staff were not able to collaborate effectively with Mr. Wicks, who is Eileen’s appointed Personal Representative. Difficulties were experienced on both sides.
McGowan’s initial written requests for Eileen’s medical records and for documented evidence to confirm that she was being legally confined were unsuccessful. Island Health refused to provide this information, to which Eileen (and her representative) is entitled, or to engage in discussions that might have led to an early resolution of this matter out of court.
On April 28, 2022, McGowan filed a habeas corpus petition in B.C. Supreme Court requesting a court order that Eileen be released immediately. On May 4, Island Health filed an application in B.C. Provincial Court for a court order to force Eileen into long-term care, and a legal tangle has ensued.
Eileen’s lawyer was frustrated by Mr. Wicks’ inability to respond in a timely manner and his reluctance to accept legal advice. Trevor Wicks readily admits to being “completely out of my depth” in legal matters. “I don’t understand why this is a legal matter. We should just be able to sit down and talk this out. I’m being accused of something I didn’t do,” he says.
McGowan objected to Trevor Wicks directly contacting Island Health employees and Island Health’s lawyer Melissa Perry, after he had been engaged to act on Eileen’s behalf. The Wicks’ lawyer also objected to Mr. Wicks publicizing Eileen’s situation, “organizing a phone blitz” to pressure Island Health to release Eileen, and sending a letter “threatening” to sue Island Health employees.
Trevor Wicks was also frustrated with Eileen’s lawyers. “The habeas [corpus petition] was filed first,” says Wicks, “before Island Health filed their request for a court order” to force Eileen into long-term care against her wishes. Wicks asked Eileen’s lawyers several times why Island Health’s application for a court order to force Eileen into long-term care is already being heard in court, yet no date has been set for Eileen’s habeas corpus petition. “They never gave me an answer,” he says.
Wicks also complained that Eileen’s lawyers did not inform him that Eileen had been brought to court for one of the earlier hearings in B.C. Provincial Court, a hearing that the Wicks lawyers said Trevor did not need to attend. Wicks said he had understood that this court hearing was just a procedural matter to do with scheduling. Apparently, more was on the agenda that day, including Island Health’s attempt to obtain an “interim” order to send Eileen to long-term care immediately (denied) and, apparently, a publication ban order request, although that has been disputed by the lawyers on both sides.
Mr. Wicks said that upon withdrawing from the case, Patrick McGowan told him the habeas corpus petition was filed in B.C. Supreme Court and is “ready to go” as soon as a new lawyer is engaged, and that McGowan believed that the habeas corpus petition is “very strong.”
Trevor Wicks is currently searching for a new lawyer to represent his wife Eileen.
Chaos ensues, judge refuses to preside at court hearing scheduled in haste by Island Health
Upon losing their lawyers, Eileen and Trevor Wicks immediately became “self-represented,” meaning Trevor Wicks in effect was required to act as Eileen’s lawyer and to interact directly with Island Health’s lawyers and the courts. Island Health is represented by Norton Rose Fulbright, a large international law firm based in Vancouver.
A week after losing their lawyer, Trevor Wicks attended a hearing in B.C. Provincial Court, while continuing to search for a lawyer who would represent Eileen’s interests.
According to communications from the Wicks’ previous lawyer, this hearing was supposed to be about Island Health’s request for a publication ban. After attending the Court proceedings by video link on the morning of June 9, 2022, Wicks said, “I didn’t understand what the judge said, or why this hearing was held. I thought it was supposed to be about the publication ban,” said Wicks.
Wicks says that the judge who presided at the morning hearing “got really angry with Melissa Perry,” Island Health’s lawyer, for bringing this matter to the Court without enough time for the judge to absorb the court file materials. Holding up a six-inch thick pile of documents containing Island Health’s affidavits, Wicks recounts B.C. Provincial Court Senior Judge Justine Saunders saying, “I can’t read all of this,” and she refused to hear the matter.
Island Health’s lawyer quickly obtained another hearing date on the afternoon of the same day, with a different judge. The afternoon hearing lasted about one and a half hours, which this reporter attended by video link.
For most of the hearing, Mr. Wicks was queried by Judge Sheila Archer on a variety of topics. She chastised him for having missed a deadline to file documents, and for having communicated directly with “opposing counsel” Melissa Perry of Norton Rose Fulbright, while Eileen had been represented by her lawyer Patrick McGowan.
The judge asked Mr. Wicks if two weeks would be enough for him to find a lawyer, and whether he would be able to come to the courthouse in Nanaimo for another hearing on June 30, instead of attending by video link as has been done previously. Wicks agreed.
Several times during these proceedings, Judge Archer, while stating she could not give him legal advice, encouraged Mr. Wicks to communicate directly with Island Health’s lawyer, Ms. Perry, saying that he could do so since he (Eileen) was currently without legal counsel. At one point Judge Archer said, “The best thing is for you to talk directly to Ms. Perry to set up some sort of mediated thing.” It became clear that Wicks was not being granted a postponement of the legal proceedings to find a lawyer, as he had requested in writing.
Mr. Wicks welcomed this opportunity for direct communication with Island Health’s lawyer, believing it would replace the legal proceedings and “bring Eileen home.” Wicks was unaware that acting on his own without legal counsel would most likely put Eileen’s interests in jeopardy.
Wicks has repeatedly said he believes all that is needed is to “sit down with Island Health” and discuss which care plan is best. “The only options are the two care plans, theirs and ours,” he says, meaning the Support and Assistance Plan that Island Health is proposing, to force Eileen into long-term care, and the at-home care plan he has developed. “Our home care plan is far better for Eileen, everyone knows that,” says Wicks.
Over the last few months, Wicks has peppered Island Health with various versions of a home care plan to demonstrate that Eileen would be well cared for at home, as she had been prior to the abrupt, brutal home invasion the couple experienced on January 12, 2022, but Island Health continues to maintain that Trevor Wicks intends to end Eileen’s life “imminently” if Island Health does not protect her from him.
Wicks asserts that Island Health home care workers who visited the couple in the months prior to the home invasion and apprehension had completely misconstrued what he and Eileen said, and that it was these workers who brought up the term “murder-suicide pact” during their interrogations of the couple during their home visits, not the couple. Wicks says, “they brought it up repeatedly during every home visit. It was awful hearing them continuing to question us about murder-suicide, and one time, Eileen told one of the workers that she was fed up hearing them always bringing this up.”
Unlike other authorities such as police, health care workers are not required to provide any recorded evidence to corroborate what they allege was said during interviews or investigations. Their word is routinely accepted at face value, without question.
Recent media stories report members of the public increasingly speaking out and challenging the statements made by health care workers and other authorities.
READ/WATCH: ‘Outright lies’ 8-yr-old boy’s family on review of care at Abbotsford hospital before he died Global News June 6, 2022
READ: She confided in a doctor about her depression. The next thing she knew, the government took away her driver’s licence, Toronto Star June 17, 2022 A student nurse had her driver’s license suddenly cancelled because false personal information secretly circulated by government agencies claimed she was “suicidal.”
A disturbing trend in Canada’s courtrooms
Island Health’s requested publication ban was addressed briefly near the end of the hearing on June 9, but only to set a new date (June 30) to hear the matter.
The results of a recent special investigation into court data from four provinces including British Columbia, Justice in the Shadows – the silencing of our courtrooms, reveals the increasing use of publication bans, which rob the public’s right to know what’s going on.”
Published by the National Post on June 18, 2022, the report states “Courts are increasingly being asked to keep secrets, as lawyers become ‘more brazen’ amid dwindling media resources. Some litigants treat [court] as a private club.”
The June 30 hearing is supposed to address whether the B.C. Provincial Court Act applies to publication bans in this matter. Lawyers we contacted told Second Opinion QB that publication bans are often implemented in family law cases involving children and divorce, but not in cases such as unlawful confinement under the B.C. Adult Guardianship Act.
The perils of engaging a lawyer – damned if you do, damned if you don’t
After the couple’s apprehension from their home on January 12, Trevor Wicks resisted the necessity of obtaining a lawyer.
Stunned by the shock of a squad of RCMP and health care workers suddenly invading their home, and then the bewildering removal of Eileen without any explanation, Wicks struggled to comprehend what was going on, and to determine what he should do. Many people urged him to get a lawyer but he resisted, recalling his bad experience with a patent lawyer many years ago.
Wicks’ initial reluctance to engage a lawyer was also based on his firmly-held principles of justice, of right and wrong. “Why should a person who has not been charged with any crime have to hire a lawyer to investigate wrongdoing by a government organization,” says Wicks. He did meet with a local lawyer shortly after the January 12 incident, but he decided not to engage this lawyer.
Wicks attempted to navigate the situation himself. Having been told in the first week after the apprehension that a doctor saw no reason to hold Eileen any longer and that she would be discharged right after the weekend, as soon as social workers were back at work and could fill in some missing paperwork, he felt confident that would happen. Instead, shifting explanations gave way to more vague and contradictory pronouncements by hospital and health authority staff, and rapidly turned into an entrenched opposition to Eileen’s release by Island Health.
The situation changed dramatically on February 24 during a meeting with Island Health at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, attended by this reporter and another observer invited by Mr. Wicks.
Island Health presented their Support and Assistance Plan — to put Eileen into long-term care — telling Mr. Wicks that, in their plan, his legal authority to make decisions on Eileen’s behalf would be removed. Lorraine Kirk, an Island Health social worker, told Mr. Wicks that if he did not agree to support the health authority’s “care plan,” then Island Health would fight him in court to force their plan on the couple.
At that point, litigation became inevitable; the only other choice was to allow Island Health to do whatever they wanted to do with Eileen, a prospect that included the possibility that the couple might be kept apart forever. Trevor Wicks decided to engage Patrick McGowan, a highly-regarded Vancouver lawyer, to represent Eileen.
Having to pay for lawyers, most of whom charge $300-$500 per hour, will drain the coffers of most middle-class citizens. Many lawyers contacted have asked for a $50,000 retainer just to take the case, says Wicks, but so far none has agreed to represent Eileen.
Listening to public relations campaigns launched by various ministries and government funded and charitable agencies, a person might think that legal representation for a violation of Charter rights such as Eileen Wicks is alleged to have experienced would be easy to obtain. Not so. The vaunted B.C. Civil Liberties Asssociation did not even respond to a request for their assistance.
If a person is apprehended under the Mental Health Act, a B.C. government funded organization, Community Legal Assistance Services will provide legal assistance.
The province of British Columbia provides legal assistance for people who have been apprehended under the Mental Health Act, but there appears to be no such assistance for people apprehended under the Adult Guardianship Act (AGA). The government has recently become very vocal about improving the Mental Health Act, yet has been curiously silent about the review of the AGA, already underway when the Wicks were apprehended. Is the government genuinely interested in obtaining input from the public about their admittedly “draconian” Adult Guardianship Act?
There are also various government funded legal aid services available in B.C. but, to qualify, a person has to be at or below a designated level of poverty. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is too slow a mechanism to protect Eileen’s health and well-being from the debilitating effects of continued confinement in the small 4th floor room in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
Trevor Wicks is worried that he may not find any lawyer willing to take Eileen’s case.
Every day is a rollercoaster of emotions
After the last Court hearing, Trevor Wicks tried to negotiate an agreement on his own with Island Health, but that quickly floundered as he realized he did not understand legal processes. “I’m getting so many emails and letters from Melissa Perry [Island Health’s lawyer], and they say I can’t share them with anyone,” says Trevor Wicks. He says he doesn’t understand the emails and letters, and he doesn’t know how to respond to their legal demands.
Instead, he has tried to apply his own methods to resolve the situation. “I asked if I could bring Eileen to court on June 30.” He feels that together they could explain their situation to the judge, and that would resolve the matter. Wicks was flabbergasted when Island Health replied that they would not allow Eileen to attend Court with him because it would be harmful to her, yet Eileen was brought to an earlier Court proceeding, apparently without any such concerns.
Wicks was also convinced by a member of the public, who he said had many decades of experience working in prisons, to try to negotiate an agreement with the Wicks’ daughter directly to prevent Eileen from being forced into long-term care.
Affidavit materials indicate that the Wicks’ daughter, Sharon Tomcyzk, was the person who, two years ago, made the complaint to Island Health that resulted in her parents’ eventual apprehension and her mother’s continuing confinement in Nanaimo hospital. Ms. Tomcyzk has also provided an affidavit in support of Island Health’s plan to obtain a court order to put Eileen into permanent long-term care, alleging her father is a lethal threat to her mother.
After recent discussions with their daughter, Trevor Wicks was led to believe that the daughter had now “turned 180 degrees” and apparently wanted her mother discharged back home into his care. Trevor Wicks was told that their daughter was not the complainant who triggered the apprehension of the Wicks in January 2022, but that it was Eileen’s long-time geriatric psychiatrist who made the allegation against Trevor Wicks in the summer of 2021.
These recent allegations are not supported by the record exhibits submitted with Island Health’s affidavits. The records show that Eileen’s psychiatrist dismissed and refuted the rather hysterical claims of the Wicks’ daughter and Oceanside Health Centre staff for the past two years, through to and including his most recent appointment with Eileen in December 2021.
The Wicks’ daughter apparently indicated she would talk to Island Health’s lawyer about changing her affidavit, and plans were made for the Wicks and their daughter to go to lunch in Nanaimo before the court hearing on June 30. However, a few days ago, Trevor Wicks learned that their daughter is now not willing or able to do what Mr. Wicks was led to believe.
As unwelcome as it may be, sorting fact from fiction is but one reason why it may be necessary and wise to obtain the services of a lawyer.
Protection from unfounded allegations
Members of the public are increasingly vocal about abuse of authority by government institutions and the erosion of individual rights and protections against the power imbalance of governments and corporations.
WATCH: Interrogation Tactics, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, April 17, 2022. Learn how easily someone can be coerced, bullied and manipulated into making incriminating comments even in the most innocuous conversations with authorities.
READ: The Kafkaesque dystopia of workplace investigations, Financial Post, June 24, 2022. Sage advice about how vulnerable people are to false allegations, and how to protect yourselves and your family members from false allegations made by government agencies, authorities and corporations. Geared to the workplace, but applies to any large bureaucracy like a health authority.
READ/LISTEN: Death in a small town, Toronto Star, June 2021. Story and podcast reveal falsified information used in a flawed investigation by police and social workers of the death of a young boy. The truth has only come out now, several years later, when the grieving mother began her own investigation.