Almestadi found not criminally responsible for attempted murder in UBC dorm attack

Thamer Almestadi was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder for attacking a fellow UBC student in her dorm room in October 2016. Almestadi, 19, had been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

BC Supreme Court Judge Margot L. Fleming accepted that Almestadi was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence.

“It is also clear to me that ... Mr. Almestadi’s brief psychotic disorder rendered him incapable of knowing that attempting to kill [Mary] Hare was morally wrong,” she told the court in her decision.

After the verdict, Crown Counsel Daniel Porte asked for a variation to the detention order, and for Almestadi to be put into a psychiatric hospital pending disposition by a specialized review board. Judge Fleming accepted this request — Almestadi will be transferred to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.

Artist's rendering of Judge Fleming.
Artist's rendering of Judge Fleming. File Rory Stobart

Throughout the two weeks of proceedings, the court heard testimony from several witnesses on Almestadi’s high stress levels during his first month as an engineering student at UBC, including from his roommate, residence advisor, acquaintances and Almestadi himself. The court also heard from Dr. Jeannette Smith, a psychiatrist called by the defence who testified that in her expert opinion, Almestadi had been suffering from a weeks-long brief psychotic episode (BPE).

According to Smith, the BPE caused paranoia and delusions that led to Almestadi’s attack on victim Mary Hare — first violently cutting her throat and then trying to choke her, while believing that he was fulfilling the will of God.

Porte agreed that while Almestadi did attempt to murder Hare, he should be found not criminally responsible due to proven mental health issues.

Read more about the trial starting here.