Why a North Okanagan man convicted of stabbing two people still isn't behind bars | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why a North Okanagan man convicted of stabbing two people still isn't behind bars

October 31, 2019 - 5:38 PM

A wheelchair-bound North Okanagan man who claimed self-defence but was ultimately found guilty for stabbing two brothers in the neck with a knife will see a couple more months of freedom after the court adjourned his sentencing due to concerns the prison system would not be able to look after him.

Justice Murray Blok told the Vernon courtroom the situation was "far from ideal" as he adjourned the proceeding for another 60 days.

"The unfortunate result is... I do not have the information I need," he said.

The delay in proceedings comes over three years after the incident that left two brothers suffering from serious stab wounds following an incident with Samule Bruce Edward McIntosh.

The court heard how on Aug. 28, 2016, McIntosh, who was homeless at the time, was with his partner in downtown Vernon and an altercation arose when he met the brothers in the street. The meeting turned violent when one brother was stabbed three times in the back of the neck by McIntosh, and the other stabbed once.

The most serious stab wound was several inches long and so deep, bones of the spine were visible, Crown lawyer Laura McPheeters said in her sentencing submissions.

McIntosh, born in 1982, was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. On May 14, a jury found McIntosh guilty of both charges.

McIntosh had argued he'd stabbed the brothers out of self-defence and had been provoked.

However, neither the Crown or defence came to an agreeable conclusion on the circumstances of the event.

"We had different versions of what that fight was," Justice Blok said. "All we really know is that the jury decided it wasn't self-defence."

Arriving at the sentence hearing an hour and a half late, McIntosh sat in the courtroom in an electric wheelchair wearing a dark-grey three-piece suit and bright red tie.

Defence lawyer Ray Dieno apologized to the judge for McIntosh's lateness saying he'd overslept as he'd been up until 4 a.m.

McPheeters told the court how the attack had taken its emotional and financial toll on the victims. The more seriously injured brother suffered from pain and nightmares and was uncertain about his health in the future.

The Crown asked for three-and-a-half to four years jail time, plus a lifetime ban on owning weapons and to give a DNA sample.

The court also heard how McIntosh had been hit by a vehicle while on his bicycle in 2017 and was now in a wheelchair.

McPheeters said there was no reason McIntosh should be given a lighter sentence because he was in a wheelchair. The Crown lawyer told the court she had spoken to the relevant correctional facilities and had been told they would be able to accommodate him.

The defence lawyer disagreed arguing instead for a two-year suspended sentence served in the community.

Dieno said the case was a "unique situation."

The defence said McIntosh had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and fetal alcohol effect at a young age. He had a lengthy criminal record starting when he was a youth but there was a seven-year gap prior to the incident.

"(McIntosh) was hunted down by the (the brothers) on the street," he told the court. "There's no evidence McIntosh packed a knife."

Dieno said the brothers' recollection of the events changed over time.

"(McIntosh) stated he did not want to hurt them, he just wanted to get away... he recalls swinging wildly and injuring the man in the shoulder," Dieno said.

The defence argued McIntosh was facing serious injuries and in order to live a dignified life he should serve his sentence out of custody. The defence lawyer quoted the United Nations Disability Charter outlining that prison could not provide the resources needed for a disabled person in a wheelchair.

The Crown disagreed, pointing out the defence had no medical evidence to support the claim and no one knew the extent of McIntosh's injuries.

The defence argued prison guards would not give McIntosh pain medication because other prisoners will threaten McIntosh and force him to give it to them. The lawyer also said prison guards wouldn't help a person in a wheelchair with daily routines like getting out of bed and using a toilet.

"That's the daily indignity he will have to suffer," Dieno said.

The judge disagreed, asking where the medical evidence was for Dieno's claims?

The defence admitted they had none and he was asking for an adjournment in sentencing so the relevant information could be obtained.

McPheeters questioned statements made by Dieno about McIntosh's health, contradicting several points from information previously presented to the court. She also pointed out the sentencing had been adjourned in August to wait for medical reports, among other things.

"It appears it's at least possible, he's putting off going to jail," she said.

McIntosh sat shaking his head at the accusation.

However, after the day-long sentencing hearing and lengthy deliberations concerning McIntosh's health and who would pay for the various reports, Justice Blok adjourned the hearing for 60 days.

The Justice requested two more days be booked for the remainder of the hearing stating "frankly, I want to give my decision then."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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