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Kamloops judge encourages man with schizophrenia to take care of his mental health

January 20, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - From flashing a pellet gun and demanding money, to assaulting his partner, a Kamloops man with paranoid schizophrenia took responsibility for his 2016 crime spree.

Bjorn Benedikts, born 1982, was off his medication for schizophrenia and on hard drugs when he racked up several offences on his record last year, court heard.

He pleaded guilty to 10 charges including assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, breaching court orders and theft under $5,000.

Crown prosecutor Monica Fras told Kamloops Provincial court yesterday, Jan. 19, that in May 2016 a man in downtown Kamloops called police to report two suspects, one armed with a pistol, had taken his phone and demanded money before returning it.

The pistol, carried by Benedikts, ended up being a pellet gun. Police made the discovery after locating Benedikts with a large group of people outside the 7-Eleven on Seymour Street.

Defence lawyer Jeremy Knight told the court Benedikts had learned the victim in the attack had previously sought services from a prostitute, who was a friend of Benedikts. The friend told Benedikts the man had failed to pay her and Benedikts essentially took the law into his own hands to get the money back.

Benedikts was released on bail on the charges, but breached his conditions on his release.

Then, on Aug. 30, 2016, a woman made a call to 911 saying her partner had assaulted her while they were in a hotel room on Columbia Street. Once officers arrived, Benedikts said the 911 call never happened, but his partner alleged he had punched her in the face and hand.

Benedikts gave police a fake name and resisted arrest. He was eventually brought in to the police station, where officers discovered he had been lying about his identity. Benedikts' psychiatric nurse had called the detachment, worried that his patient hadn't been receiving his medication for schizophrenia.

Benedikts was released after the charges on conditions including a no contact order with his common-law spouse. His partner called police again two days later, saying he had violated the order by coming to her hotel room.

An anonymous caller phoned police later that day out of concern for the wellbeing of Benedikts' partner. Police entered the couple's room and Benedikts grabbed a knife and briefly pointed it at police officers, court heard.

Officers tried to subdue Benedikts, using their batons on his arms. He reached for them at one point. Benedikts' partner spoke up, asking officers if she should call for back up and informing them Benedikts was reacting physically to their arrest because he had just taken drugs.

His partner told police Benedikts had struck her over her head during a fight over money and a cell phone. Crown was seeking a no contact order between Benedikts and his partner, but she was opposed to it.

Knight says the time his client has spent in custody, around four and a half months, has been eye-opening. Benedikts has had time to get off narcotics, get back on his schizophrenia medication and realize his issues.

"He's deeply, deeply remorseful about it," Knight said.

Benedikts' assaults against his partner were very minor, leaving no bruises or marks, but either way it was wrong, he said.

"Violence at any level toward somebody, especially in a domestic relationship, is unacceptable," Knight said.

As for resisting the officers while they were trying to arrest him, Knight says Benedikts was acting aggressively due to being on street drugs and off his medication.

Benedikts was first diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was in high school, court heard. 

He was released from prison yesterday after being given a sentence of time-served by Provincial Court judge Len Marchand.

"You've gone from five counts to 15 counts (on your record)," Marchand said. "If you don't stay on the treatment, you'll be back here again."

Marchand said Benedikts appeared in court as a respectful, kind person, but told him if he went back to street drugs he would return to the man his criminal record shows.

He also denounced Benedikts' conduct in respect to assaulting his partner.

"All women deserve to be treated with the utmost respect at all times," Marchand said.

Benedikts will spend the next year on probation, with terms including an order for him to live with his mother, abstain from moving back in with his partner right away and staying away from drugs and alcohol.

Marchand also imposed a Rogers order on Benedikts.

A Rogers order is imposed when the success of an accused is dependent on treatment for substance abuse and/or mental illness. It legally binds an accused to letting their probation officer know if they are not seeking treatment for their issues.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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