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

Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, School District 28 board chair Dave Chapman and Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson plant ceremonial shovels into the ground at what will become Quesnel’s newest school during a ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Construction begins on new Quesnel Junior School

A groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off the two-year project

B.C. Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin and Cariboo North candidate Kyle Townsend were practising proper physical distancing during a campaign stop in Quesnel on Saturday, Oct. 17. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Bolin first party leader to visit Quesnel

The B.C. Conservative Pary’s leader made the stop to support Kyle Townsend

Seasons House provides shelter and services to people in Quesnel who are experiencing homelessness, and they’ll be able to do a little more in November once a toque and toiletry drive organized by the Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre wraps up. (File Photo)
Quesnel toque and toiletry drive runs until Oct. 30

The Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre is collecting items for Seasons House

Workers from the Quesnel Child and Youth Support Society prepare Christmas hampers in 2019. The society was one of seven recipients of funding in the first round of the Emergency Community Support Fund. The Quesnel Community Foundation is now accepting donations for the second round of funding and is urging local groups to apply before Oct. 30. (Facebook)
Quesnel Community Foundation urges area groups to apply for COVID-19 relief funding

The deadline to apply for Round 2 of the Emergency Community Support Fund is Oct. 30

The best photo of the Fraser River Walking Bridge taken on Oct. 23 or 24 will be rewarded with a donation to the Polio Plus Fund on behalf of the Rotary Club of Quesnel. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel’s footbridge set for scarlet spotlight

The Fraser River Footbridge will be bathed in red light to mark World Polio Day Oct. 23 and 24

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read