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Ferry breakdown leads to impact statements being read on Zoom

Descoteau’s mom had intended to make views known directly to her son’s killer
“Goodbye is not forever, goodbye is not the end,” reads a message on commemorative display at the DD Brothers memorial site. (Photo submitted)

It was an emotional week for Brenda Smith and her family leading up to the anniversary of her son Derek Descoteau’s murder in Chemainus in 2016.

First, there was a B.C. Review Board hearing last Wednesday at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam for Colin John, the man found not criminally responsible in Descoteau’s death by reason of mental disorder.

Smith and other family members, as well as Leah Guyatt, whose daughter Janelle was stabbed but survived in the same attack that killed Descoteau, had intended to be there to read victim impact statements.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get there.

“We were in the ferry line up on Wednesday to go to the hearing and the ferry broke down so we had to turn around in the line-up and head home to do it on Zoom,” explained Smith.

Both Guyatt and Smith still got to read the statements, at least, with John watching.

Guyatt spoke a lot about Janelle’s injuries and the reasons she felt it was not an accident.

The panel at the hearing will take until the middle of June to determine if John will be completely discharged, discharged with conditions or remain in detention in custody in the hospital. Smith and her family are confident the latter will be the result and it’ll be another year before his case is reviewed again.

Related story: Descoteau, Guyatt family members leery as board decides killer’s future

Meanwhile, the anniversary of Derek’s death on May 20 seven years ago was marked with a gathering of family and friends at the DD Brothers memorial site on the Pacific Marine Circle Route between Mesachie Lake and Port Renfrew on Saturday. Derek’s brother Dustin died three years earlier in a car crash.

A car cruise has become a tradition in tribute to the brothers. The first memorial cruise was in 2016 and continued every year until COVID.

The 2023 cruise is planned for the last weekend in June just before what would have been Derek’s 28th birthday on June 26.

The memorial site was first chosen as a meeting place during the cruise. It has since developed into a magical place of peacefulness and beauty.

A plaque with Dustin’s and Derek’s names was added in 2017.

Smith also mentioned she was involved in a meeting with the Regional Crown Counsel on Tuesday to hear about the reasons for the denial of an appeal in John’s case.


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The DD Brothers memorial site is in a parklike setting on a hill on the road to Port Renfrew. (Photo submitted)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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