Crown counsel asked for a 33-year-old charged with viciously cutting a man’s face with a utility knife downtown Chilliwack on March 3 to be remanded in custody, but a judge ordered him released on bail on a $2,500 surety on March 6.
Robert Matthew Giesbrecht suffers from schizophrenia, has a history of violence but no criminal record, in part because of his being found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder for an assault with a weapon case six years ago in Abbotsford.
An incident has closed a section of Yale Rd between Young & Nowell in @City_Chilliwack @ChilliwackRCMP are on scene investigating & collecting evidence. There is blood all over the sidewalk. @CTVVancouver pic.twitter.com/gN10XMwzrO
— Jordan Jiang (@J___Squared) March 3, 2018
Crown Michelle Wray asked the court on Monday to remand Giesbrecht after he allegedly used a utility knife to cut a homeless man from the back of his neck to the corner of his mouth while Giesbrecht was looking for crack cocaine around midnight on March 2.
He was arrested soon after and charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
“There is a history of violence which should be concerning to the court,” Crown counsel argued.
During the bail hearing held Monday, Giesbrecht was brought in wearing a blue T-shirt. The short, black man with long dreadlocks looked around the courtroom frequently muttering things hard to hear from the prisoner’s box.
“That’s racist,” he clearly stated at one point after Crown suggested he was a “significant threat to reoffend.”
The incident occurred when Giesbrecht pulled up to a group of people setting up to camp on the street in front of Auld Phillips on Yale Road late Friday night. He asked a woman named Tanisha Gauthier for crack, and when she told him to beat it, he became “angrier and angrier.”
Witnesses said Giesbrecht grabbed Gauthier, and the victim intervened to protect her. An altercation ensured, and Giesbrecht got back into his Acura, drove off, then did a U-turn and drove back, revving his engine yelling at the people camping out to come out onto the road, Wray told the court.
He then got out of his car, according to witnesses, with a utility knife with the blade fully extended. The victim, James, ran away, was attacked and Gauthier told Crown she saw him get up with blood on his neck.
The deep slash ran from the back of his neck to the corner of his mouth, so deep it nicked but did not sever an artery. James was rushed to Chilliwack General Hospital then Abbotsford Hospital for surgery and to receive staples.
“He suffered quite a significant injury to his face,” Wray said. “[He] will likely be scarred, but he will heal.”
After the incident, Giesbrecht fled the scene and when his Acura was seen driving erratically in Abbotsford around 12:45 a.m., he was pulled over by an Abbotsford Police Department (APD) officer. That officer heard via radio the vehicle was sought by Chilliwack police and she approached the vehicle.
The officer reported Giesbrecht became highly agitated.
“He said ‘Do you know who you are f—-ing with?” Wray said. “He began calling [the officer] a crackwhore bitch, and kept repeating, ‘don’t you know who I am?’”
Giesbrecht was arrested, and continued to be belligerent at the Chilliwack detachment yelling profanities and refusing to respond when asked if he understood his Charter rights, according to police.
Giesbrecht’s version of events is that, indeed, he asked the group downtown for drugs, but was approached by “junkies” that ended with an “engagement.”
“He thought they were racists,” Crown said Giesbrecht told police, adding that a fight ensued involving knives on all sides and the victim “got cut by accident when they fell down.”
Acting as duty counsel, Phillip Derksen said Giesbrecht was born in Haiti Aug. 4, 1984 and adopted at eight or nine and raised by a family in Abbotsford. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic and spent considerable time at Colony Farm but he has been fully discharged, and exhibits no signs of mental illness.
Judge Gurmail Gill ordered him released on $2,500 surety, ordered him to reside with his surety confined at all hours unless accompanied with the surety or on written permission from a bail supervisor. Giesbrecht is ordered to not only stay away from James and Gauthier, but he is forbidden to come to Chilliwack except for court appearances.
The Progress has not yet confirmed whether or not Giesbrecht has perfected that $2,500 surety, but by March 9 he had not.
Staff Sgt. Steve Vrolyk of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment RCMP said the incident was “an excellent example of the seamless communication and co-operation which occurs across not only jurisdictions, but also police agencies. We would like to extend our thanks to the Abbotsford Police Department for their ongoing assistance.”
The Chilliwack RCMP are asking for any further witnesses or anyone with information about this incident to call 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).