Wells ‘Miles’ Gallagher, 37, wouldn’t have known what hit him when David Van Den Brink lunged at him with a knife outside Baselines Pub in downtown Langley on June 1, 2015.
Van Den Brink, then 21, had been released from jail that morning. He had spent his time in custody having delusional thoughts about ‘Miles’ — a fellow homeless person and an acquaintance on the streets of Langley City.
On Monday morning, Van Den Brink sat in the prisoner’s box listening to Crown Counsel Crichton Pike lay out the events of that tragic day. In an agreed statement of facts, Crown and Defense jointly submit that Van Den Brink shouldn’t be found criminally responsible for the murder of Gallagher, due to a mental disorder.
Prior to attacking the innocent man, Van Den Brink said he had taken an unknown amount of methamphetaime. The court learned that the young man had been addicted to heroin and meth for about two years.
But he’d had no psychotic episodes or prior mental health issues before he committed the murder. However, around age five, he was diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
The court learned that Van Den Brink had likely been living with undiagnosed schizophrenia for a year leading up to the day of the murder.
It’s believed Van Den Brink had his first psychotic break on the day he killed Gallagher. Information about his mental state wasn’t learned until 2016 while in jail.
He was seen by a forensic psychiatrist for the first time on March 31, 2016. In an interview with the psychiatrist, Van Den Brink said, “God had started talking to him and had told him that morning that Miles had to be killed and he needed to drink his blood to get his power.”
Gallagher was stabbed, gruesomely, in front of dozens of horrified onlookers, several of whom tried to intervene. One of those people was a casino security guard who knew both homeless men by name from various interactions. He had just kicked Gallagher off the casino property minutes before the attack.
That guard ran to the scene of the attack when Van Den Brink threatened him with his knife and told the guard he better leave. Van Den Brink then continued to attack Gallagher.
Trained in First Aid, the guard ran to Gallagher after Van Den Brink fled the scene. He tried to help, but Gallagher was already dead.
The account of that day was grueling for Gallagher’s family, with several of them having to leave the courtroom during the statement of facts.
Minutes after the murder, Langley police easily tracked the attacker to the back parking lot of the Langley Times, where he complied with his arrest, his face and clothes covered in blood.
He has been behind bars at Surrey remand centre since his arrest. He has had three visits to the forensic psychiatric hospital where he will now reside after being committed by the judge on Monday.
Up until spring of 2016, he was considered fit to stand trial, until a judge ordered a forensic report on his state of mind.
“He was quietly psychotic while at Surrey pretrial,” said Crichton. It’s believed his behaviours in custody may have been wrongly attributed to his autism.
It was learned that Van Den Brink continues to suffer from psychosis. Four doctors have seen him and all concur. He’s also been prescribed four different anti-psychotic drugs but continues to be delusional and have hallucinations, and believes he is communicating with God, said Crown.
The defense’s only request was that Van Den Brink live at the forensic psychiatric hospital, not in jail. A review board will now handle Van Den Brink’s file, to ‘best address the safety of the public and his possible and eventual re-integration into society,” said Crown.
Gallagher, better known as ‘Miles’ to the general public, was a fixture in downtown Langley, spending time outside the Starbucks, 7-Eleven, wearing black, tattered clothing, and a trench coast.
Despite his intimidating appearance, he was quiet and kind, said many after his death.
Many offered him food, a ‘hello’ and conversation.
Miles lived on the streets for years and suffered severe schizophrenia since childhood. His sister said her family has spent years trying to help him get off the streets, but even if they did find him housing, he would make his way back to the streets after he stopped taking his medication.
The family planted a memorial tree at Douglas Park.