Janelle Guyatt, left, with Derek Descoteau’s mother Brenda Smith outside the Duncan courthouse. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Mother of Chemainus murder victim upset after accused deemed unfit to stand trial

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

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.

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

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

Couple opts for plan B for wedding in Courtenay

Pandemic restrictions prompt April Powell and Hayden Eely to change plans for the big day

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Union Bay water plant now finished

Work allows health authority to lift boil water advisory

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read