Man sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for brutal stabbing spree at British Columbia homeless camp – BC

Man sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for brutal stabbing spree at British Columbia homeless camp – BC

A convicted murderer who brutally attacked two men at a Vancouver homeless encampment two years ago has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Denis Carlin Sleightholme pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault over the stabbing spree on October 8, 2022. He was originally charged with two counts of the offence, as well as possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

He also pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon for attacking police with a sword in Gastown in July 2022.

Click to play video: 'Suspect in custody after stabbing spree at Vancouver's CRAB Park'

Suspect arrested after mass stabbing at Vancouver’s CRAB Park

In her arguments before British Columbia Provincial Court Judge David St. Pierre on Friday, Crown prosecutor Jacinta Lawton called the attack on the homeless encampment “brutal.”

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He described the victims, Sleightholme’s friends, as “helpless, unsuspecting”, noting that one of them nearly died and suffered “catastrophic, life-altering physical injuries”.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Sleightholme entered a large communal tent at the CRAB Park campsite at around 3:15 a.m. with a large knife and attacked the victims.

Witnesses heard him yell: “I’m Heavy D and I want blood.”

The first victim was stabbed in the back and ran screaming for help before falling to the ground, where Sleightholme kicked him and struck him about 15 times with what is believed to have been a sledgehammer or axe.

Police later found a mallet on a nearby road. The knife was never recovered.

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The first victim suffered multiple stab wounds to the back, side and base of the neck, spinal nerve damage, head trauma and four skull fractures. Witnesses believed him to be dead and he now walks hunched over.

The second victim was stabbed between Sleigtholme’s attacks on the first victim and was found with two stab wounds on Main Street.

The identities of both victims are protected by a publication ban.

In a recorded interview with police from jail, Sleighholme told police he had been living in a tent in the park for four months. He said he remembered taking drugs on Oct. 7, but did not remember the events of Oct. 8.

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In his impact statement, the first victim told the court the attack left him wheelchair-bound for 18 months. He is now permanently disabled, has scars on his head and walks with a stick.

“I’m really not the same person I used to be,” she said, adding that she now lives in a shelter.

The second victim said he was stabbed near the heart. He now lives with PTSD and has since left town.

Lawton told the court that Sleigtholme carried out the attack just 18 months after his release from prison for manslaughter, after stabbing a man to death in the Downtown Eastside in 2015.

Click to play video: 'Suspect faces aggravated assault and weapons charges in stabbing at CRAB Park'

Suspect faces aggravated assault and weapons charges in stabbing at CRAB Park

He said he had also faced three disciplinary hearings for assaulting other inmates while behind bars.

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Defence lawyer Talia Armstrong said Sleightholme had a traumatic childhood and began using drugs at the age of 14, leading to a “decades-long addiction”.

She said he had been sober since his arrest, was remorseful and was still dealing with the reasons why he attacked her friends.

Sleightholme addressed the court, growing emotional by the minute.

“My actions were horrible and traumatic. I can’t even give you a reason why I did it,” she said.

“I’m still clean. It’s hard because there are drugs everywhere in prison. I’ve woken up in a kind of nightmare that I created myself. I feel ashamed and angry with myself.”

He added that he was using so many drugs at the time that he could not remember the last three days of his addiction.

And he apologized for the sword attack on police, saying he was trying to end his own life at the time.

“Thank God they didn’t shoot me,” he said.

The judge accepted a joint sentencing motion from the Crown and defence seeking six years in prison for the CRAB Park attack, along with a six-month sentence to be served consecutively for the sword attack.

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“Different decisions can be made in the future,” said St. Pierre. “This cannot happen again.”

With credit for time served, Sleightholme will serve an additional four years and three months behind bars.

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