The murder trial for Colin John, accused of killing a Chemainus man in 2016, came to an abrupt halt on Thursday.
At the request of John’s lawyer, Scott Sheets, Justice Lisa Warren has ordered a psychiatric assessment of John. The trial will resume next Wednesday once the assessment has been done.
Sheets told the court he was concerned about his client after learning about his behaviour while being transported from the jail in Victoria to the Duncan courthouse Thursday morning.
“He may have injured himself this morning,” Sheets said. “He banged his head 10 times against the steel cage in the transport vehicle. He was in a catatonic state on arrival here.”
A sheriff’s deputy brought into the courtroom to add more details said the police vehicle had to pull over en route because John was constantly banging his head.
“When he stopped [banging his head], the vehicle continued on. But when they got here he was crouched over and wouldn’t move,” the deputy said.
“He was like that for six to eight minutes. Eventually we had to move him and help him out of the van. Two deputies had to help him into the cell block.”
Justice Warren said it was essential to ascertain John’s level of fitness to stand trial.
“We have to determine whether he is capable of understanding the nature of proceedings and provide instructions to his counsel,” Warren said.
John is accused of the May 2016 murder of Derek Descoteau who died of stab wounds. He is also facing an attempted murder charge relating to a knife attack on Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt who suffered serious injuries. Guyatt was hospitalized for more than two weeks and faces another surgical procedure in order to repair damage to an arm.
The trial began Monday in Duncan Supreme Court and five witnesses have taken the stand in the trial that was scheduled to last three weeks. Another nine people are on the witness list.
Witnesses have described a bloody scene at the house on Caswell Street in Chemainus in May 2016.
Next door neighbour Carl Wright was among the first to rush to Descoteau’s assistance, attempting to staunch the bleeding from a gash to the 20-year-old’s neck. While Wright tended to Descoteau and heard the fatally injured young neighbour say Colin had stabbed him, John, shirtless and covered in blood, walked up to them, knelt down and assured Derek that he would be OK.
Descoteau died on the way to hospital.
Neighbours also provided first aid to Guyatt before three ambulances and police arrived.
John was arrested on the scene and has been in custody awaiting trial for the last two and a half years.