Accused killer Colin John found unfit for trial

The man accused of killing a Chemainus man more than three years ago has been declared unfit to stand trial.

Colin John suffers from paranoid psychotic disorder which makes it impossible for him to communicate effectively with his defense lawyer, Justice Lisa Warren determined after a hearing into John’s mental state that lasted for several days.

The hearing, initiated by John’s lawyer, Scott Sheets, lasted more than a week and delayed the trial that began in November 2018.

John is charged with second-degree murder into the death of 20-year-old Derek Descoteau who died of stab wounds at a residence on Caswell Street in Chemainus in May of 2016. He is also charged with the attempted murder of then-16-year-old Janelle Guyant, Descoteau’s girlfriend. Guyant suffered series knife wounds but survived the attack.

Justice Warren took almost two hours to read her decision, a verdict that upset members of the Descoteau family and friends of the victim who have been attending court daily since the legal process began in 2016. Several spectators left the gallery in tears as Warren was reading the final paragraphs of her decision.

Warren said she relied heavily on the testimony of expert witness Dr. Stanley Semrau in making her ruling.

Semrau and other psychiatrists described how John was reasonably communicative when engaging in small talk but would shut down when the subject came to the alleged offence.

“His inability to recount the facts … not communicating the facts required to seek and receive effective legal representation, caused by paranoid psychotic disorder” means he is unable to conduct a proper defence, Warren said.

“This is very important, if not crucial to the outcome of this trial.”

John is expected to be transferred from the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam until a the court determines what steps are necessary.

The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital is a secure facility that treats people who have been deemed unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Just Posted

More rowers come forward with complaints about coach, criticism of UVic

Barney Williams is accused of verbal abuse and harassment

No chronic wasting disease found in deer carcass brought to Nanaimo

Conservation officers had asked for public assistance to locate hunters last month

Mount Washington receives more than 30cm of snow

Last week, the resort announced they were pushing back opening day due to lack of snow.

Gabriola Island plane crash victim identified; witnesses describe ‘explosion’

He was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta

Canada ranks among countries most impacted by severe weather

Canada has climbed from the 42nd spot to ninth on the Climate Risk Index

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Sooke student hit by vehicle in high school crosswalk

Injuries appear to be non-life threatening, but student was taken to hospital by ambulance

Victoria’s Strathcona Hotel complex closed due to ‘construction issues’

Business announced closure on Thursday afternoon on Facebook

B.C. SPCA seizes dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

BC Hydro offers tips as collisions with power poles increase

Region with the largest spike in collisions was the Lower Mainland at 16 per cent

Island NDP MP Gord Johns says Scheer’s resignation not surprising

Pressure is on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, as the lone major party leader remaining in the opposition

Most Read