Survivor of UBC dormitory attack speaks out for first time as trial for accused begins
The survivor of a violent attack inside a UBC dormitory told her story for the first time, as the trial of the young man accused of slashing her throat began in Vancouver Tuesday morning.
Mary Hare, now 20 years old, took the stand to testify in what’s expected to be a three-week trial.
Thamer Hameed Almestadi, a former UBC international student from Saudi Arabia, is facing charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon in connection with Oct. 4, 2016 attack.
Hare, then an international student from Oregon, testified she was in her third-floor dorm room in Salish House at UBC that morning when she heard a faint knock on her door.
The court heard she was not wearing her contacts and, after a second knock, she opened the door to her room.
“He started cutting my throat right away,” Hare testified, saying the door was thrown open. Hare alleges her attacker told her to shut up.
A struggle ensued, at which time Hare was able to break the blade of the knife off from the handle. She alleges her attacker then began choking her.
“I think that’s when I realized this guy was going to kill me,” Hare told the court.
She described a struggle in which she was on her back on the ground, with her alleged attacker over top of her.
“I was on my back and he was on top of me fighting me again,” she recounted.
Several witnesses describe scene, accused’s demeanor
Among the Crown’s witnesses to testify Tuesday were 19-year-old Luca Berg and 20-year-old Rachel Aoiugi, two of the many students who initially responded to the calls for help that day.
Aoiugi testified she first became aware of the situation after hearing “loud and increasing” screaming.
Accompanied by another female student, she made her way down the hall in the direction of the screams towards Hare’s room, where she said the door “appeared shut” but was partially open.
She described seeing Hare on the ground and the accused attacking her.
“He didn’t seem to notice our presence,” Aoiugi said of Almestadi and her initial assessment that day when she entered the room. Aoiugi and others called for help.
Among those who responded were Berg, Adam Casey, and another student who would perform first-aid on Hare until the ambulance arrived.
The court heard Berg was on his way to get lunch on the main floor when other female students stopped him and told him what was happening.
Upon entering Hare’s third floor room, Berg alleges he saw Hare on the ground with Almestadi’s legs around her neck while another student, Casey, had the accused in a choke hold.
In total, Crown called five witnesses to the stand, including two RCMP officers from the UBC detachment.
WATCH: One of the people who sprung into action to rescue a woman who was being attacked at UBC is speaking out about the horrifying experience.
Victim still dealing with trauma
Outside the court, Hare told reporters how she felt seeing her attacker again.
“I guess it was relieving, because now it’s all over and I won’t have to worry about it anymore,” she said.
But she admitted that “when I see him, it’s like it’s that same day again.”
Hare also said she has had trouble in her day-to-day life in the aftermath of the incident.
“I’m still afraid to open a door,” she said. “I’m still afraid of going outside, and I’m still afraid of meeting people, just because I have that residual fear of opening the door and seeing someone standing there waiting to kill me. That’s not easy to get over.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, and…I would just like to see him away from anyone else he could hurt.”
In court, Almestadi pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
In his opening statement, Crown attourney Daniel Porte alluded to concerns having been raised in the days and weeks leading up to the attack concerning Almestadi’s mental state, including from his teachers, his mother and his sister.
Court is expected to resume Wednesday morning, where a three-hour video of Almestadi’s original testimony recorded shortly after the attack will be played.
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