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Chemainus man not criminally responsible for fatal 2016 stabbing

Colin John pleaded guilty in November 2021 to the second-degree murder of Derek Descoteau and the aggravated assault of Janelle Guyatt.
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Victoria's courthouse. TIMES COLONIST

A Chemainus man has been found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder for the May 2016 murder of Derek Descoteau.

In November 2021, Colin John pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Descoteau and the aggravated assault of Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt.

The two were watching a movie in Descoteau’s father’s home in Chemainus when John suddenly burst in and stabbed them. Descoteau, 20, died on the way to hospital. Guyatt, 16, was stabbed five times and seriously injured. John was at the scene of the attack when police arrived and was quickly arrested. He was initially found unfit to stand trial.

On Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lisa Warren found John was suffering from a mental disorder — schizoaffective disorder — which rendered him incapable of knowing that what he was doing was wrong.

“I want to acknowledge the presence of Ms. Guyatt in the courtroom, her friends and family, and the many friends and family members of Mr. Descoteau, who have endured these difficult and very protracted proceedings. Many lives have been permanently and tragically diminished by what Mr. John did,” the judge said, her voice shaking with emotion.

“Notwithstanding my conclusion, which is a legal one, I am very sorry for your loss.”

Instead of serving a life sentence for murder, John, who turns 32 this year, will remain in the custody of the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. Within 45 days, the B.C. Review Board must hold a public hearing to assess how much of a threat John poses to society.

The families’ victim impact statements will be read at the review board hearing.

The judge found that John’s beliefs were intensely out of touch with reality. John believed Descoteau was engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct with a young person. Women he knew had told him that they had been sexually assaulted and he was angry about that.

“On the day of the offences, he saw Mr. Descoteau come home with a girl who appeared to be about 14 or 15 years old. He thought she was too young for Mr. Descoteau and that Mr. Descoteau was going to take advantage of her sexually. This angered him. He suddenly decided to kill Mr. Descoteau and he did not think what he was doing was wrong,” Warren found.

“From all the evidence, I infer that he decided to kill Mr. Descoteau to put a stop to what he had concluded was a pattern of sexually predatory behaviour. Of course, there was no actual evidence to suggest anything of the sort.”

John was incapable of rationally choosing between right and wrong conduct, Warren found. The judge accepted the “persuasive evidence” of two forensic psychiatrists who assessed John and found his mental disorder rendered him incapable of knowing that what he was doing was wrong.

His motive for killing Descoteau was not based in reality, she said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com