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6.5-year prison sentence for ‘brutal’ stabbing spree in B.C. homeless camp – BC

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

Denis Carlin Sleightholme has pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault in the Oct. 8, 2022, stabbing spree. He was originally charged with two counts of the offence, along with possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

He has 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 in custody after stabbing spree at Vancouver’s CRAB Park

In her arguments before B.C. Provincial Court Judge David St. Pierre on Friday, Crown Prosecutor Jacinta Lawton called the homeless camp attack “brutal.”

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She described the victims, Sleightholme’s friends, as “defenceless, 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 in the CRAB Park encampment 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 delivered an estimated 15 overhand blows with what is believed to be a sledgehammer or a hatchet.

Police later located a sledgehammer on a nearby path. The knife was never recovered.

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The first victim suffered multiple stab wounds to his back, side and the base of his neck, nerve damage to his spine, head trauma and four skull fractures. Witnesses believed he was dead, and he now walks with a stoop.

The second victim was stabbed between Sleigtholme’s assaults 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, Sleightholme told police he’d been living in a tent in the park for four months. He said he recalled doing drugs on Oct. 7, but did not remember the events of Oct. 8.

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In his victim impact statement, the first victim told the court the attack left him in a wheelchair for 18 months. He’s now permanently disabled, with scars on his head, and walks with a cane.

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

The second victim said he suffered a stab wound close to his heart. He now lives with post-traumatic stress disorder and has since left the city.

Lawton told the court that Sleighthlome performed 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, weapons charges for CRAB Park stabbing'

Suspect faces aggravated assault, weapons charges for CRAB Park stabbing

She noted he’d also faced three discipline 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 14 leading to a “multi-decade addiction.”

She said he had been sober since his arrest, is remorseful, and is still grappling with the reasons he attacked his friends.

Sleightholme addressed the court, growing emotional at times.

“My actions were horrific and traumatic. I can’t even give them a reason why I did it,” he said.

“I am still clean. It’s hard because there is drugs everywhere in jail. I have kind of awoken to a nightmare of my own creation. I am ashamed and angry at myself.”

He added that he was using so many drugs at the time that he couldn’t recall the last three days of his addiction.

And he apologized for the sword attack on police, saying he had been seeking to end his own life at the time.

“Thank god I wasn’t shot,” he said.

The judge accepted a joint sentencing submission from the Crown and defence asking for 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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“You can make different decisions in the future,” St. Pierre said. “This can’t ever happen again.”

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

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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