Colin John has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. (file photo)

Colin John has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. (file photo)

Accused pleads not guilty as Trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder

Colin John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

Thirty months after Derek Descoteau, a 20-year-old Chemainus man, was stabbed to death, the murder trial for the man accused of killing him has begun.

Colin John is facing a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Descoteau and a second count of attempted murder in connection with an attack on Janelle Guyatt, Descoteau’s girlfriend.

John was charged following a bloody attack in May of 2016 at a residence on Caswell Street. Descoteau and Guyatt were both stabbed several times with Descoteau dying en route to hospital. Guyatt suffered five knife wounds and spent two weeks in hospital. She is still undergoing treatment for a serious injury that has limited the use of one arm.

On Monday, Guyatt was the first witness called by Crown counsel Ken Paziuk.

Now 18, Guyatt said she and Descoteau were having lunch and watching a movie shortly after noon when a stranger appeared in the basement suite belonging to Derek.

She then described the attack.

“I heard the dog growl and there was somebody standing behind the couch,” Guyatt testified.

“He was holding a knife in his hand, above his shoulder. I felt a bad pain at the bottom of my neck.

“Then this shirtless man jumped over the couch and started attacking both of us. Derek was trying to get me out of the way, saying ‘don’t hurt her’ and he attacked Derek.”

The room was poorly lit and Guyatt struggled to recall certain specifics of the attack but she says Descoteau and the shirtless man wound up on the floor as she made her escape.

She made her way outside and screamed for help.

“I’d lost a lot of blood and my arm was useless. I tripped going up the stairs and stumbled and ran to the road. I was yelling for help the whole time.

“There was a lady getting groceries out of the back of her car, she didn’t move. I was soaked in blood from the neck down,” she explained in a soft voice in the Duncan courtroom that contained about 20 members of her family and Descoteau’s family.

“A couple minutes later someone else came down from Caswell and another lady came and she was on the phone. I remember hearing Derek yelling for help.”

She told the court how Derek emerged from the house, covered in blood, holding his arm.

“Help, I’m gonna die,” she heard him say.

Asked by Paziuk if she could identify her attacker, Guyatt turned in the witness box and pointed directly at John who was seated in the prisoner’s box.

Throughout the day, John sat motionless in the box, his head bowed.

Before Guyatt took the stand, John’s lawyer Scott Sheets and Crown counsel Paziuk informed Justice Lisa Warren that John had requested that he be tried by judge alone, rather than by judge and jury.

Warren agreed to the change and John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

John appeared heavier than he had been at the time of his arrest in May of 2016. He arrived in court wearing leg irons and a red Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre jumpsuit.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
IIO investigating after police dog bites man near Ladysmith

RCMP dog bit man during traffic stop on Friday, April 17

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future finally surfaces at Royal B.C. Museum

Museum dives into the world of the killer whale as delayed feature exhibition now open

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Polystyrene has been outlawed as a take-out option for restaurants in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Black Press Media file photo)
Styrofoam done as a takeout option on Island’s Pacific Rim

Tofino and Ucluelet ban polystyrene take-out containers

This photo shows crews battling the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents early Sunday morning. (Central Saanich Fire/Department Twitter)
Six fortunate to escape terrifying early-morning fire in Greater Victoria

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

British Columbia’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Wildfire fanned by winds near Merritt prompts evacuation alert

BC Wildfire Service says the suspected human-caused blaze was fanned by winds

Most Read