A new trial has been ordered for an Okanagan man who was previously convicted of violently assaulting a psychiatrist.
On Wednesday, the B.C. Court of Appeal announced that the original trial judge erred in the criminal case of Gregory Stanley Nield of Summerland, and that Nield’s 30-month conviction of aggravated assault should be set aside.
Nield was found guilty by a jury in April of 2017 of assaulting his psychiatrist, Dr. Rajeev Sheoran, while being treated under the Mental Health Act in Penticton.
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Court originally heard that Nield had been consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms, and that his wife took him to the family doctor on Nov. 26, 2014. Court heard that he was experiencing auditory hallucinations, was not sleeping and was angry.
The family doctor, Dr. Kyle Stevens, felt Nield would cause or suffer significant harm if he wasn’t hospitalized and completed a medical certificate for involuntary hospital admission.
Later that day, at Penticton Regional Hosptial, Sheoran assessed Nield, who was prescribed medication.
Then, on Dec. 5, 2014, Sheoran was examining Nield when the alleged assault occurred.
The alleged attack was vicious, with Sheoran suffering significant facial injuries. According to the B.C. Court of Appeal, Sheoran’s “orbital bone was so badly fractured that he required a prosthetic implant. His right eyeball and optic nerve were damaged. He needed reconstructive dentistry and orthodontic treatment. He has suffered a traumatic brain injury and psychological and emotional problems.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal noted “the appellant’s conduct after the assault was bizarre. A nurse testified that she followed the appellant to a lounge. She testified he was extremely calm but concerned about his hand.
“She observed him asking people if they wanted a hug. A police officer testified that while he was read his charter rights and later, when he was put in the cells, the appellant hummed and repeatedly introduced himself.”
After being arrested, Nield eventually went to trial, where he was found guilty. However, Nield appealed the conviction.
In its summary, the B.C. Court of Appeal wrote “the trial judge did err with regards to evidence that could have gone toward establishing the available defence of automatism. The judge failed to weigh the costs and benefits of receiving the treating physician’s opinion evidence.
“Further, the judge erred in not admitting relevant portions of the hospital record as prima facie proof of the facts recorded therein, including observations on the patient’s behaviour and the administration of drugs, after a witness attested to the record’s authenticity.”
In conclusion, the B.C. Court of Appeal said: “I would allow this appeal, set aside the conviction, and order a new trial.”
No date has been set for the new trial.
The B.C. Court of Appeal decision can be read here.
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