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

Successful removal of invasive plants in Comox park

The Friends of Mack Laing Nature Park (FMLNP) organized an ‘Invasive Pull… Continue reading

Craigdarroch residents find ways to help each other online and off

Neighbourhood of about 200 households lies between Royston and Union Bay

Comox Valley mayors say residents adhering to public health directives

The Comox Valley’s three mayors all say that while Public Safety Minister… Continue reading

Gardens offer solace in these troubled times

Ellen Presley Special to The Record We really are living in an… Continue reading

Comox Valley Airport open, operating at reduced hours

Hours of operation will be adapted to coincide with changes to flight schedules during pandemic

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

High cost, limited coverage for asthma medicine a concern during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man says he skips puffs to save money, but others have it worse

Vancouver Island’s ‘Project Draw Breath’ expands and diversifies to battle pandemic

Grassroots team working to up supplies of ventilators, other equipment during COVID-19 crisis

B.C. man sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Green says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Trudeau says Parliament needs to sit to pass expanded COVID-19 benefits

Wage subsidy program has been greatly expanded since it was first approved

UPDATE: Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read