UBC student found not criminally responsible in knife attack
Published Friday, October 27, 2017 7:47AM EDT
A University of British Columbia student whose throat was slashed in a terrifying attack in a campus dorm last year says she agrees with a court's decision to send her assailant to hospital, rather than prison.
On Thursday, a B.C. Supreme Court justice found Thamer Hameed Almestadi not criminally responsible for trying to kill Mary Hare at the Salish House dormitory in October, 2016.
Court heard that Almestadi, an engineering student from Saudi Arabia, was suffering from a brief psychotic disorder and believed God had ordered him to make a human sacrifice.
He will now be detained at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, a secure treatment and rehabilitation centre in Coquitlam, until a date yet to be determined by the B.C. Review Board.
Following the court’s decision, Hare told CTV News that while she is still mentally recovering from the attack, she is not angry with Almestadi.
“I have no resentment towards him anymore and I think that it was the right decision that he was found not criminally responsible,” she said.
"At this point, I really just wish the best for him and his family… I know it's been a really difficult journey for all of us, but I hope we can all start to recover."
Court heard that Almestadi and Hare both lived at the dorm but had met only briefly prior to the incident. On the day of the attack, Almestadi knocked on Hare's door around 11:30 in the morning, slit her throat with a knife and then began to choke her.
Hare fought back, grabbing the blade of the knife and breaking it off before two other students ran into the room and helped pull Almestadi off her.
Almestadi, who was 18 at the time, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon for the attack.
The court heard Almestadi had no history of mental health issues but had been stressed and struggling in the weeks before he attacked Hare. He'd also started suffering from paranoid thoughts and believed people were sending him telepathic messages.
Almestadi was at one point referred to counselling, but could not get an appointment immediately.
The university declined to comment on the circumstances of the incident Thursday.
"The finding was that Mr. Almestadi was suffering a psychotic break at the time, and as a result of the psychotic break, he was not aware that what he did was morally wrong," Crown Prosecutor Daniel Porte told reporters outside court.
Hare, who was also an international student at the time of the attack, came to Vancouver from her home in Oregon for the trial. She told CTV Vancouver she left school after the attack but said she expects to return soon, and might consider returning to UBC.
Porte said he has "the utmost respect for the incredible strength” that Hare showed during the last year.
How long Almestadi will remain in custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital will depend on the B.C. Review Board, which will hold a hearing to determine how long Almestadi will stay in care.
Hare told CTV Vancouver the trial has helped to give her and her family closure.
"Before this trial… I didn't know what his motive was, I didn't understand. And now I'm able to appreciate the reasons and that really helps me."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber and Carly Yoshida-Butryn