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Accused pleads guilty to murder of Vancouver Island man Derek Descoteau

Colin John also pleads guilty to downgraded charge of aggravated assault of victim’s girlfriend
Colin John pleaded guilty to the May 2016 murder of a Chemainus man, during an appearance at Victoria Law Courts on Nov. 30. (Black Press Media file photo)

Colin John pleaded guilty at the Victoria courthouse on Tuesday to the 2016 murder of Derek Descoteau, a Chemainus man.

John had been charged with the second-degree murder of Descoteau, 20, and the attempted murder of Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt, who survived the May 2016 attack but required several surgeries for nerve damage after being stabbed five times by John.

On Tuesday, John also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a lesser charge than attempted murder, for stabbing Guyatt multiple times. Crown lawyer Ken Paziuk told the court the victims and their families were informed about the change to the attempted murder plea. Aggravated assault carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Testifying in 2018, Guyatt told the court she and Descoteau were watching a movie while eating lunch in Descoteau’s father’s Chemainus basement suite, when a man suddenly appeared and began stabbing her. Bleeding heavily, Guyatt was able to escape the basement and began yelling to neighbours for help before Descoteau emerged, also bleeding from multiple stab wounds.

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Neighbours tended to the couple as best they could before paramedics arrived, but Descoteau died on his way to hospital.

Pathologist Dr. Jason Doyle told the court Descoteau sustained numerous stab wounds, including one 12 centimetres deep to his upper back and chest cavity, and one seven centimetres deep near his neck that penetrated his spinal cord. Guyatt, a Cowichan Valley Secondary student at the time, spent two weeks in hospital due to the serious injuries sustained during the stabbing.

The prosecution wrapped up its case in August 2019 before defence layer Scott Sheets lobbied for an assessment of John’s mental fitness. The COVID-19 pandemic further delayed the process.

Proceedings in the case will continue at the Duncan courthouse on Jan. 17, 2022, when dates will be set for a three-day sentencing hearing. A psychiatric assessment of John will be completed by Jan. 11 and be included in a pre-sentencing report.


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