The paramedic who treated Colin John minutes after he had been arrested says his patient’s behaviour was strange and mostly unresponsive.
Terry Rempel was testifying at the trial of John who is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of a 20-year-old Chemainus man, Derek Descoteau. John, also of Chemainus, is also charged with attempted murder related to an attack on Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt in 2016.
“He was making animalistic grunting sounds and his eyes were rolling up into his head,” Rempel told the court.
Rempel responded to the scene on Caswell Street where two people had been stabbed. When Rempel began treating John, who had been handcuffed and was on his knees on the lawn, he noticed lacerations to both palms and superficial injuries to a wrist and on his forehead. He was, however, covered in blood.
John was subdued while he was on the lawn but had difficulty following instructions from an RCMP officer and Rempel.
“For example, when he was asked to turn left, he’d turn right. He wasn’t following directions as I would expect most people to do,” Rempel recalled.
Concerned about John’s mental state, Rempel made the decision to transport the man to the Nanaimo hospital where emergency room personnel would be equipped to assess the situation.
En route, Rempel says John was mostly silent while being treated.
“When I asked him if he was on any medications, he replied, ‘I don’t do drugs.’ When I asked him if he had any allergies he gave the same response, ‘I don’t do drugs.’”
Rempel was on the stand for more than four hours over two days and while being cross examined by defence counsel Scott Sheets, he testified about an incident that occurred during the preliminary hearing held in July of 2017.
After he had concluded his testimony, Rempel was called back into the courtroom by the sheriff. Evidently the officer had noticed what Rempel had seen as he left the room.
“On my way out I’d glanced at (John) and he seemed to have a potential for some issues. When I came back he was leaning forward with his hands on his legs.
“There were thickened secretions around his mouth and on his shirt. It would be best characterized as drool. The sheriffs were concerned.”
Rempel says as he wiped John’s face, he noticed the defendant’s eyes were focussed straight ahead and even as his head was turned he continued to stare straight ahead.
“He was fixated on something in front of him,” Rempel said.
John needed assistance to stand.
“He was quite limp and I had help to put him in a chair with wheels and he was removed from the courtroom.”
The Supreme Court trial continues Thursday, and is expected to last three weeks.