Surprise guilty plea: Midway through trial, West Kelowna man admits aggravated assault

Click to play video: 'Surprise guilty plea in trial of man accused of mother’s aggravated assault'
Surprise guilty plea in trial of man accused of mother’s aggravated assault
The West Kelowna man accused of beating and biting his elderly mother entered a surprise guilty plea halfway through his trial. Jules Knox reports. – Jan 26, 2021

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to readers. 

Kevin Barrett’s elderly mother was expected to take the stand in a Kelowna courtroom on Tuesday to describe how her son beat her up and dumped her up a West Kelowna forest service road, leaving her for dead.

However, Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to aggravated assault.

He had also been accused of attempting to murder his mom Eleanor Holmes, but that charge is expected to be stayed.

Read more: Trial continues for son accused of trying to murder elderly mother in West Kelowna

Holmes had not been allowed in the courtroom during her son’s trial because she was expected to be called as a witness, but she sat listening in the back row as he pleaded guilty.

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Court heard that Barrett was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young child, and his behaviour started to deteriorate as a teenager when he started drinking.

Read more: Court sees surveillance video of West Kelowna suspect after attempted murder

“Mr. Barrett’s mental illness and alcohol use have contributed towards his previous criminal behaviour,” Crown prosecutor Patricia O’Neil said.

Barrett, who is now in his 60s, sometimes doesn’t take his medication because he can’t tolerate the side effects, according to an agreed statement of facts.

His mother, who was 79 years old at the time of the assault, had often been Barrett’s only source of support because he alienated other family members, O’Neil said.

Holmes let Barrett stay with her in her one-bedroom home in Westview Village Mobile Home Park because she loved him and did not want him to be homeless, the Crown said.

Barrett would yell derogatory names at Holmes and threaten to kill her, but at the time she didn’t believe he was serious, O’Neil said.

Read more: Attempted murder trial: Rescuer describes finding elderly West Kelowna victim

In her victim impact statement, which was read by the Crown, Holmes said she’s now terrified of her son.

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“I don’t want to give a lot of information in this statement because I don’t want to stir Kevin up again,” Holmes wrote.

“I’m old and have a weak heart,” she said. “I do not want Kevin back here.”

Holmes also wrote that she didn’t think a protection order would keep her son away.

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According to the agreed statement of facts, the mother was driving her son to run a quick errand on April 29, 2019.

Barrett had given his mother a kiss and told her that she was the best mother a man his age could ever have, according to the agreed statement of facts.

Read more: Trial begins for West Kelowna man accused of beating, leaving mother for dead

However, then Barrett demanded to drive, even though he didn’t have a licence.

Holmes told him no, and Barrett suddenly turned violent, court heard.

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Court heard Barrett pushed Holmes down into the vehicle’s footwell, where he started striking her with a blunt object, ripped out handfuls of her hair, threw her dentures out of the vehicle, and drew blood when he bit her hard on her left hand.

Barrett then drove up the Hidden Creek Forest Service Road.

Read more: Okanagan man charged with attempted murder after injured senior found in back country

“Miss Holmes was covered by a blanket and could not see where Mr. Barrett was driving, but she could sense that he was swerving left and right as he drove,” O’Neil said.

“When she tried looking out from under the blanket, (Barrett) would strike her with a blunt object or strangle her with the seatbelt,” the Crown continued.

“Miss Holmes believed that Mr. Barrett was going to kill her. She decided that the best way to survive was to play dead by going limp,” O’Neil said.

Court heard Barrett stopped near an embankment that overlooked a creek, approximately 75 to 100 metres below.

“Mr. Barrett pulled Miss Holmes out of the vehicle by her leg and removed her shoes,” O’Neil said. “He rolled Miss Holmes over the embankment and she tumbled partway down towards the creek.”

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“Mr. Barrett’s parting words were, quote, ‘Rest in peace, you f—— b—-, unquote,’” O’Neil said.

Holmes waited until she was sure her son would not return, O’Neil said, and then crawled up the embankment on her hands and knees.

“She was bleeding, dizzy and cold,” the Crown said.

Court heard that Holmes had stopped to rest on a skid steer parked on the forest service road, when a couple spotted her covered in blood as they were driving by. It was still light in the day at that time.

Read more: Elderly Okanagan assault victim allegedly beaten by son

O’Neil said she told the pair that her son had tried to kill her. She was rushed to hospital.

In the meantime, Barrett then went and made a purchase at a liquor store before buying ice cream and gas at a West Kelowna gas station, according to the agreed statement of facts.

Court heard that when police showed up at Barrett’s residence to arrest him, he called 911 to report that there were people lurking outside the home and told the dispatcher that he had been at home cleaning all day.

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He then left the home when police called for him and was arrested without incident, O’Neil said.

While the officer drove Barrett to the detachment, the accused was rambling non-stop about various unrelated topics, O’Neil said.

“He was confused about why he had been arrested as he claimed to have been at home all day,” O’Neil said. “He asked where his mother was.”

The constable then told Barrett that she was in the hospital and that he was a suspect, O’Neil said.

“Mr. Barrett asked if they had, quote, ‘found her on the mountain,’ unquote,” she added.

Barrett was found with Holmes’ cell phone and had abrasions and bruises to his knuckles from striking his mother with his fists, according to the agreed statement of facts.

The Crown asked for a sentence of eight to nine years for Barrett, while the defence asked for 4.5 years.

The judge is expected to give his decision Friday morning.

Click to play video: 'Trial starts for Okanagan man accused of beating, leaving mother for dead'
Trial starts for Okanagan man accused of beating, leaving mother for dead

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