A young man who needlessly stabbed two bystanders last year is not about to be released from the psychiatric institute as he has been designated a “high-risk defendant”, a rare label. One of the victims miraculously survived even though the knife got stuck in his neck.
“These people were pure innocents who should never have been attacked. The Tribunal is touched by their suffering, but the Tribunal is also touched by your life journey, and the fact that your parents are still there. I can’t imagine their suffering to see you go down like this. They are there to help you, “said Judge Martin Chalifour, declaring Benjamin Webster not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, at the Montreal courthouse.
It’s that Benjamin Webster had a “perfect path” of life into adulthood. Then everything changed about a year or two before the events, described the judge. The 19-year-old suffered from mental illness when he wantonly attacked the victims. Psychiatrists concluded that schizophrenia was at the start of its evolution. The young man, however, responds well to treatment, said the judge, ordering his detention at the Douglas Institute.
At the end of May 2022, around 1 a.m., Benjamin Webster approached a man who was waiting for the bus on Bishop-Power Boulevard, in the borough of LaSalle, and asked him for the time. When the victim pulls out his phone, the assailant stabs him, inflicting a kidney injury. He is an international student of Colombian origin.
A few days later, a man was walking quietly near Paul-Séguin Park in LaSalle when Benjamin Webster attacked him without warning from behind. He then sticks a knife in her neck. When help arrived, the blade was still stuck there. Miraculously, the man has very little physical damage from the attack. However, he still has headaches and is afraid to go out at night.
Due to the seriousness of the acts and the risk of violent recidivism, the judge declared Benjamin Webster a “high risk defendant”, at the request of the parties. This rare designation makes it possible to considerably restrict the exits of an offender declared not criminally responsible outside the hospital, without however making them impossible.
The police took several weeks to get their hands on the collar of Benjamin Webster last year. Investigators had released a sketch of the suspect and had deployed a mobile command post in the area.
Note that a few weeks after the two gratuitous assaults, another passerby was attacked in a similar way in the LaSalle sector. The assailant stabbed the man in the neck and then stabbed him again in the back as he tried to flee. Benjamin Webster, however, was never charged for this crime.
Me Marie-Josée Thériault represented the Crown, while Me Leonard Waxman defended the accused.