‘None of us were doing well’: On fifth day of Almestadi trial, court hears from a fellow engineering student

Thamer Almestadi, who in connection with an attack that happened at UBC in October 2016 has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, appeared in BC Supreme Court on Tuesday for his fifth day of trial.

The court first heard from witness Mohammed Ashik Abrar, a 21-year-old second-year student in chemical engineering. During the fall of 2016, he lived alongside Almestadi in Totem Park’s Salish House — they frequently smoked cigarettes outside the building and studied together in the commons block on occasion.

According to Abrar, they never had deeply emotional conversations, but he had talked to Almestadi about the stresses of being first-year engineering students at UBC and missing their hometowns.

During midterm season — around when the attack occured — Abrar said that he had inferred that Almestadi was not doing too well in his classes, and sometimes had to skip lecture just to study in order to catch up.

Crown Counsel Daniel Porte pressed — was this particularly unusual?

No, everyone in the program is almost always under incredible stress, Abrar answered, almost incredulous at the question. “None of us were doing well.”

According to his testimony, at around 1 a.m. on the morning of October 4, 2016, Abrar woke up to study for a midterm he had later that day at 10 a.m. He went to the house lounge and found Almestadi and another student studying already and joined them. They studied throughout the night, with the other student heading back to his room at about 7 a.m. and Abrar leaving soon after to shower and eat before his midterm. When he left, Almestadi was still studying.

During cross-examination, defence counsel questioned Abrar further about Almestadi’s apparent stress levels at the time. Abrar testified that Almestadi seemed a bit more stressed than usual, but otherwise, his demeanor was about the same. Once or twice throughout the night, Almestadi “spaced out” looking at his laptop screen for 30 minutes or more, said Abrar, but this also wasn’t particularly unusual for engineering students trying to grasp a difficult concept.

“We all have that one look with PHYS 157,” he told the court.

Court will convene at 2 p.m. on Wednesday to hear from from court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Robertson.

Follow along with live coverage at the @UbysseyNews Twitter. We’ll be releasing a recap article after each day of the trial.