PENTICTON - A man jailed since Jan. 2 for smashing a bench and breaking two windows at an Osoyoos motel was declared not guilty by reason of mental disorder on two of three counts in Penticton court.
Judge Meg Shaw handed down her decision yesterday, March 16, following Aaron Paul Hillstad’s, 25, hearing earlier this week in Penticton court on March 13 in which he pleaded guilty to two counts of mischief and one count of possession of methamphetamine.
Crown sought to have Hillstad declared not guilty of the charges due to mental disorder following a Jan. 2 incident in which Hillstad broke a bench and two windows at the Westbridge Motor Inn in Osoyoos.
Hillstad and defence lawyer James Pennington opposed Crown’s application, seeking to enter guilty pleas on all three charges.
Judge Meg Shaw recounted the circumstances surrounding Hillstad’s arrest after police found him in an intoxicated state and "going berserk" at 2 a.m. in the morning.
Police were familiar with Hillstad. Upon attendance they found a bench that had been flipped over and multiple items scattered and thrown outside.
Hillstad was in his motel room, yelling and swearing. When he saw the police, he told them he would pay for the damage. He continued to talk to police about superpowers, endorsing the fact he took methamphetamine and admitting to smashing the windows out.
Police arrested Hillstad, and on a personal search discovered 20 strings tied around his biceps, forearms and legs. The strings were tied tight enough to turn his skin blue and cause his arms to swell up to twice their normal size. Hillstad told police he did this because it gave him power and made him strong. He also told police he wanted to be “Scorpion” from the video game Mortal Kombat.
He was previously seen on the street after he tried to make his own costume with a mask and cardboard sword. Police were concerned the bands were so tight Hillstad could suffer injury, or even loss of limbs.
Hillstad also gave up his crack pipe and dime bag to police, telling them he had no issues with police charging him as he knew he shouldn’t have the drugs.
Hillstad suffers from chronic severe schizophrenia complicated by a substance abuse disorder, namely methamphetamine and marijuana, according to information provided by forensic psychologist Dr. Sunette Lessing.
Judge Shaw noted the psychologist’s report said Hillstad’s schizophrenia manifests with chronic delusional thinking, delusionally informed self harm behaviour and a disorganized thinking style.
"It is recognized his psychotic illness and cognitive difficulties are worsened by illicit drugs, particularly methamphetamines,” she said.
Hillstad also expressed a desire to go to the Lower Mainland to participate in bare knuckle fist fights as he believes he would win money to pay off his debts.
“I am the dominant person in the Okanagan in one-to-one fighting, the other opponent will lose,” he told the psychologist during a short interview, which he terminated after 10 minutes.
Judge Shaw agreed with Lessing’s determination Hillstad was "suffering from a disease of the mind at the time of his offence, likely brought on by a combination of his chronic schizophrenic psychosis, chronic methamphetamine use and medical complications of his self-inflicted limb strapping.”
The judge said she believed Hillstad did not have an appreciation of the consequences of his actions of destroying property as a result of mental disorder, lacking an understanding of moral wrongness for his actions. She declared him not criminally responsible on the two counts of mischief.
Judge Shaw did find Hillstad guilty of possession of methamphetamine, however, sentencing him to 14 days in jail, or time served. Hillstad has been in jail since the Jan. 2 incident.
“I am satisfied Mr. Hillstad’s mental disorder rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the acts, or knowing the acts were wrong,” she said, remanding Hillstad in custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital pending disposition by the Mental Health Review Board.
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