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

Nanwakolas Council makes donation to North Island College to support First Nation students

The money was raised at the 2019 Nanwakolas golf tournament.

LETTER: Texas man deserved to be charged for ‘rescuing’ baby seal

‘I am hopeful that there is still time to lay charges! In this instance I totally think it’s warranted’

Poetry contest started for Vancouver Island poets

“We’re such a unique group,” says founder on why she wanted to start the collective

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Most Read