Colin John has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. (file photo)

Shirtless stranger loomed over couch and started stabbing, B.C. murder trial hears

Colin John pleads not guilty as trial opens in 2016 Chemainus murder case

The testimony painted a scene like something out of a horror film: a high school student eating lunch with her boyfriend as they watched a movie in his dimly-lit basement suite.

“I heard the dog growl and there was somebody standing behind the couch,” Janelle Guyatt, now 18, said. “He was holding a knife in his hand, above his shoulder. I felt a bad pain at the bottom of my neck.

“Then this shirtless man jumped over the couch and started attacking both of us. Derek was trying to get me out of the way, saying ‘don’t hurt her’ and he attacked Derek.”

‘Derek’ is Derek Descoteau, a 20-year-old man from Chemainus, who was stabbed to death in his home 30 months ago. The second-degree murder trial of the man accused of killing him got underway Monday in Duncan.

Colin John is also facing a count of attempted murder in connection with the attack on Guyatt following a bloody incident in May of 2016 at a residence in the peaceful Vancouver Island community.

Descoteau and Guyatt were both stabbed several times. Descoteau died en route to hospital. Guyatt suffered five knife wounds and spent two weeks in hospital. She is still undergoing treatment for a serious injury that has limited the use of one arm.

RELATED: Descoteau family leans on strong support after double tragedy

On Monday, Guyatt was the first witness called by Crown counsel Ken Paziuk.

She said she and Descoteau were having lunch and watching a movie shortly after noon when a stranger suddenly appeared and started his attack. She struggled to recall certain specifics, but says Descoteau and the shirtless man wound up on the floor as she made her escape, running outside and screaming for help.

“I’d lost a lot of blood and my arm was useless. I tripped going up the stairs and stumbled and ran to the road. I was yelling for help the whole time.

“There was a lady getting groceries out of the back of her car, she didn’t move. I was soaked in blood from the neck down,” she explained in a soft voice in the Duncan courtroom that contained about 20 members of her family and Descoteau’s family.

“A couple minutes later someone else came down from Caswell (Road) and another lady came and she was on the phone. I remember hearing Derek yelling for help.”

She told the court how Descoteau emerged from the house, covered in blood, holding his arm.

“Help, I’m gonna die,” she heard him say.

Moments later, the shirtless man she says attacked them in the basement came out of the house and made his way to where Descoteau was being attended to in the front yard.

Under cross examination from John’s lawyer, Scott Sheets, Guyatt said the man knelt down next to Descoteau, covered in blood, but not aggressive.

Asked by Paziuk if she could identify her attacker, Guyatt turned in the witness box and pointed directly at John who was seated in the prisoner’s box.

Throughout the day, John sat motionless in the box, his head bowed. Before Guyatt took the stand, Sheets and Paziuk informed Justice Lisa Warren that John had requested that he be tried by judge alone, rather than by judge and jury.

Warren agreed to the change and John quietly entered not guilty pleas to both charges.

John appeared heavier than he had been at the time of his arrest in May of 2016. He arrived in court wearing leg irons and a red Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre jumpsuit.

The Supreme Court trial continues Tuesday and is expected to last three weeks. The Crown expects to call more than a dozen witnesses.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neighbourly Northern Flicker and friend drop by for a visit. Miriam Saville photo
Urban wildlife Part V: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser over the spring, summer and fall of 2020. Part V.

Incumbent MLA Tom Shypitka is contesting Kootenay East for the BC Liberals. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Wilkinson would have been a great premier: Shypitka

Re-elected Kootenay East MLA responds to resignation of party leader

Logan Terness made 31 saves to backstop the Trail Smoke Eaters to a 4-2 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks on Saturday at the Cominco Arena. Jim Bailey photo.
Trail Smoke Eaters double up Bucks, take Game 3 of Kootenay Cup

The Trail Smoke Eaters Chase Dafoe scored the game winner in a 4-2 victory over Cranbrook Saturday

A Cranbrook mother is receiving praise across the world for her design of a sensory path aimed at helping kids in school when they need a movement break. (Chantal Marra file)
Cranbrook mother receives international praise for sensory paths business

Chantal Marra has sold her sensory path packages to schools across the world

Tom Shypitka, pictured with his campaign team. on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. Trevor Crawley photo
Updated: Shypitka wins second term; BC NDP cruise to majority

“Election Days,” rather than “Election Day,” may be the more accurate term… Continue reading

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of B.C. girl, 7, by accused mother was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry hears of $800,000 and more in bags, luggage, backpacks

The lottery corporation has said it consistently reported suspicious transactions to Fintrac

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Most Read