The sentencing of Thor Straume in Provincial Court in Salmon Arm included an apology in the courtroom to his stabbing victim – his mother.
Straume, 26, was in court Oct. 13 to be sentenced following his guilty plea to a charge of aggravated assault. A second charge of attempted murder was stayed by Crown counsel.
The incident in Sicamous, which several people witnessed, occurred on April 2, 2019. The court heard that Straume, with a history of mental illness, had been taking methamphetamine for three days beforehand and had not slept.
In a drug-induced psychosis, about 6 a.m. he mistakenly thought a ‘transvestite rapist pedophile’ had come into the house where he stayed with his mother and was going to rape and possibly kill them both.
The court heard that he fought the person with a meat cleaver and eight-inch knife, not aware he was attacking his mother, who he thought was sleeping.
Sicamous RCMP received multiple 911 calls about a woman being stabbed by a man. Straume, who some witnesses said they had heard yelling that he was raped as a child, was eventually subdued after multiple arrest attempts by police.
Days before the incident, from March 23 to 27, 2019, Straume was taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act for psychosis and was then returned to his mother’s home after that.
The court heard that Straume’s mother had called Sicamous police on April 1 to help locate her son, which they did. While he appeared to be someone suffering from mental illness, police reported he was calm and did not appear to present a threat to himself or his mother. The court heard that she thanked police and took him home in her vehicle.
Referring to the attack, Crown counsel Alison Buchanan said Straume’s mother suffered significant injuries, the worst a deep laceration to her throat. It was initially suspected she might not live.
She has undergone surgery on her vocal chords but still experiences pain and might never regain her normal speech.
His mother wrote a letter to Crown counsel, stating it was not easy to write but she was doing it for the love of her son. She said he means the world to her and they have always had a close relationship. She said he has always been good and kind to her and this incident was the only time she did not know him. She said she didn’t think he should be charged as a criminal because it wouldn’t have happened without the narcotic-induced psychosis. She added that she wasn’t writing because he is her son, but because it’s true.
Straume’s mother and brother were in the courtroom during the sentencing.
Defence counsel Glenn Verdurmen said Straume’s father died when he was 11, and his education stopped about Grade 6. He had trouble dealing with the death, which led to the use of alcohol and drugs. He has used a number of drugs including heroin and cocaine, but it was methamphetamine prior to the attack. He is designated as a person with disabilities due to intellectual difficulties and a long history of mental illness.
Verdurmen said Straume has no criminal record and has held several jobs. He also has “sincere and great remorse” for the harm he’s caused his mother.
“If he can stay on the drugs he is supposed to and off the drugs he is not supposed to, he can be a safe and contributing member of society…,” remarked Verdurmen.
Straume, with closely cropped dark hair and a goatee-like beard, wearing a dark red sweatshirt, was permitted to stand up in the prisoner’s box to apologize to his mother. He noted they hadn’t talked in about a year.
“I hope we can go back to where it was… I hope in time you will feel comfortable around me,” he told her. “You have my word, I won’t do it again.”
Crown and defence counsels presented a joint submission for sentencing.
Because Straume has been in jail since the incident, he was credited with 841 days of pre-sentence time. The jail term would have been 842 days, so he was sentenced to one more day.
He will also be on probation for 30 months, during which time he must meet 13 conditions. Among them, he must report to forensic psychiatric services for any treatment or counselling required. He must attend all sessions and take all medication. He can have no contact or communication with the victim without her prior consent. He cannot go within 15 metres of her residence.