Paul Descoteau struggles over the murder of his son Derek every day. May 20 marks the three-year anniversary. (Photo submitted)

Paul Descoteau struggles over the murder of his son Derek every day. May 20 marks the three-year anniversary. (Photo submitted)

Island father’s anguish remains three years after son’s murder

Derek Descoteau remembered as a young man with such a great future ahead

Three years ago on May 20, 2016, Paul Descoteau was on his way home to Chemainus from work in Campbell River when he received the most horrifying news.

Daughter Paula Phillips had called him to relay the message that her brother and Paul’s son, Derek Descoteau, had been murdered.

“I don’t sleep at nights still to this day,” said Paul.

It’s the news no parent ever wants to receive. For Paul and his ex-wife Brenda Smith, it was a double dose of the unfathomable since they had lost another son, Dustin, in a car accident three years earlier.

As another anniversary of Derek’s death passes, the case is still before the courts. Colin John is facing a second-degree murder charge and a charge of the attempted murder of Derek’s girlfriend Janelle Guyatt.

Smith reported John’s trial is due to resume July 30 and continue until Aug. 16 after several previous delays.

“We’re still waiting for the not-criminally responsible assessment,” she said. “We were supposed to get that assessment by the beginning of April, but we’re still waiting.”

Defence lawyer Scott Sheets was also on hiatus for personal reasons since the last court proceedings in December, but is back on the case.

Paul’s been left on the outside of the court sessions to this point, making a difficult situation even harder to handle.

“I feel like I’m totally off to the side,” he said. “I could be a possible witness. I was prevented to be any part of this.”

All the information Paul’s received has been second hand and the murder of his son is constantly on his mind.

“I’ve got a lot of animosity,” he conceded.

“As a father, I didn’t get to see those boys excel. Derek, he didn’t get a chance to have a family. It was just so unfair to take his life and almost Janelle’s, too.”

Guyatt was seriously wounded in the attack and went through a fourth surgery earlier this year to repair nerve damage.

Guyatt and Derek had only been dating a short time before the incident. They were at Paul’s home when the murder occurred.

“I keep beating myself up too, if I’d taken Friday off,” noted Paul. “There’s so many hindsight issues. If only I’d sold that house earlier. I was planning on selling.”

He’d known John, who lived in the neighbourhood with his parents, during the 10 years he was in the house.

The pain never goes away for Paul.

“It’s there every day in my heart and my mind,” he conceded. “There’s never once I can actually say it’s just a dream.”

Paul said he’s grateful for the support of Tammy, whom he lived with for a while in Port Alberni after the incident. They were married in September of 2017.

“She’s been the biggest crutch that I’ve had,” said Paul.

And his daughter Paula has been instrumental in helping him through the ordeal since the loss of both boys.

There’s an orthodox ball tournament at the Cowichan Sportsplex in Duncan coming up May 25-26 to keep their spirit alive.

Paul credits Derek for helping him through a battle with alcoholism after the death of Dustin. Paul hasn’t drank any alcohol since 2014.

“In that sense, Derek saved my life,” said Paul. “I can’t tell you how good of a boy he was.”

Paul said he’s played the crime scene over in his mind countless times. It was too painful to return to the house and he eventually sold it.

Paul and Tammy now live in Lake Cowichan, but his mom still resides in Chemainus.

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

Just Posted

Inside the new shop operated by Wachiay Friendship Centre. Jared Kotyk (left), Jan Kotyk, Paloma Joy, Tim Gagnon, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Corbett and Tally, the shop dog. Photo supplied
Wachiay opens store-front arts shop in downtown Courtenay

There’s still tailor-work in the back of old AnnSew site, with the store in front

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
CSWM plans increase to number of Comox Valley landfill bays

The expansion prompted in part by COVID-19 spacing requirements

Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

Andrea Cupelli of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness told council the coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow throughout the region, as well as within Comox. . File photo
Coalition to end homelessness asking for additional funding from Comox

The coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow

Work on the first phase of renovations at the Village of Cumberland office is nearing completion. Record file photo
Cumberland office close to re-opening after reno

First phase with COVID measures should be done this month

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Most Read