Derek Descoteau’s friends, from left: Bret Joneson, Rob Jeeves and Sterling Tabler. Harvey was also Descoteau’s dog. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Descoteau’s mom expresses outrage over John’s mental fitness decision

Smith vows to keep on fighting for justice for Chemainus murder victim

Brenda Smith is outraged over the outcome of the hearing to determine the mental fitness of Colin John, the man accused of first-degree murder in the death of her son Derek Descoteau in May of 2016 in Chemainus.

In a Duncan courtroom Friday, Justice Lisa Warren announced John had been found unfit to continue to stand trial. His trial had started last November, but was halted after the prosecution wrapped up its case and defence lawyer Scott Sheets was given permission to seek a psychiatric assessment of John after questions about his mental state arose at trial.

Smith and family couldn’t even stand listening to the entirety of Warren’s lengthy explanation.

“I had to get up and leave the courtroom,” she said. “I couldn’t take it any longer. We just kept hearing she agreed with the not-criminally responsible (assessment).”

Smith and husband Steve left the court in tears.

“Our heads are swimming,” Brenda said. “There’s so many things that were brought up.”

John is also charged with the attempted murder of Janelle Guyatt, who suffered numerous knife wounds and has undergone several surgeries since the incident. She has also been in the courtroom during the process, along with many of Descoteau’s family, friends and supporters.

“I just think it’s ridiculous,” said Rob Jeeves, one of Descoteau’s good friends, of the decision. “It’s just gone on way too long. He needs to get what he deserves.”

“Now we don’t know what the next step is,” added Smith.

A teleconference between the prosecution and defence will determine that Sept. 3.

“Right now, our minds are in 20,000 different directions,” conceded Smith. “We will never stop fighting this.”

The Smiths and Descoteaus are not alone in their grief. Several high-profile cases in the region recently have drawn the ire of victims’ families – including the granting of day parole for six months to convicted impaired driver Kenneth Fenton in the death of RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett in Victoria.

The ruling on John does not necessarily mean he’ll never be brought to trial again. For now, he’ll be kept in psychiatric care until he’s able to be tried and considered capable of speaking in his own defence.

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

Just Posted

The bus is free to ride on Oct. 24 so voters can get to the polls to cast their ballots in the provincial election. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Free transit on Election Day in Cowichan

all day and on all regular routes

Painters Jim Tulip, Doug Mackenzie and Gary Henslowe were painting the exterior of the Duncan Butcher Shop and Apple Press printing shop, located between the Trans Canada Highway and Whistler Street, on Oct. 8 as part of neighbourhood painting project. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan’s Whistler Street sees a fresh lick of paint in opioid battle

Group wants to help clean up community, one street at a time

Dinner shows in the Playbill Dining Room are keeping the Chemainus Theatre going during the pandemic. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Dinner events satisfying for the Chemainus Theatre and patrons

Small groups enjoy entertainment and the food in the Playbill Dining Room

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, left, joined Rob Douglas, right, NDP candidate for the Cowichan Valley in the upcoming provincial election, on a tour to meet people in Lake Cowichan on Oct. 16 and discuss local issues. (Robert Barron/Citizen) Douglas’s campaign continued to pull out all the stops with a visit on Sunday from Premier John Horgan for some spearfishing in Duncan. (Submitted)
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visits Lake Cowichan

Rob Douglas, NDP’s candidate for Cowichan Valley, joins him

Duncan-based author Jennifer Manuel took home the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her first novel, The Heaviness of Things that Float, at the 33rd Annual BC Book Prizes. She will be part of an online reading session on Oct. 22, 2020, featuring Cowichan Valley writers. (Submitted photo)
Cowichan Valley authors to be featured in online readings Oct. 22

The Cowichan Valley Writers Spotlight will feature readings by eight area writers

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

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

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read