The trial of a Summerland man for an alleged assault with a weapon has been delayed in order to get him a new lawyer.
Garret Sedawie was in court on Wednesday, Jan. 5, for what was scheduled to be the trial for a charge of assault with a weapon and mischief under $5,000 for an alleged incident that took place in August 2021.
The Crown had brought in three witnesses, including one testifying remotely.
From the beginning of the trial, there were signs that the day was not likely to proceed normally. Sedawie’s lawyer, James Pennington opened by asking for an abrupt adjournment of the trial.
Pennington had initially raised a concern that he felt that some of the instructions Sedawie had given him were indicative of an individual with a mental health issue.
“The instructions make it very difficult to go trial at this point,” Pennington told the court. “…I don’t think he fully understands what happened and I think a lot of his recollections have been confabulated.”
Sedawie, who was present in the courtroom, spoke up during Pennington’s initial comments and was invited to speak to the court following Crown’s response to Pennington.
The Crown opposed an adjournment of the trial, noting the 471-day age of the charges, and the hardship on the witnesses who were ready to go on the stand.
One witness was working at a care home out of province and another witness, the alleged victim, is in his 60s and was described as suffering great stress and anxiety over the trial to the point of impacting his sleep.
“While this goes against everything he would like to be doing, he indicated he is going to be putting his best foot forward and he realizes the idea of coming and telling the court what in fact happened is an important social responsibility,” Crown told the court. “He’s doing this despite a significant personal cost to himself.”
Crown also noted that mental health issues Pennington described had not come up during any conversations with the Crown at any point since December when the trial was put on the court list and that Sedawie himself was not in agreement with Pennington.
The judge rejected Pennington’s request to adjourn the trial, noting that there were avenues to address mental health issues such as through Not Criminally Responsible hearings, however, Pennington was not seeking that request, and that simply delaying the trial would not resolve any supposed problems.
Addressing the court, Sedawie, stated that while he had been taken into custody previously for assessments, he had always been released without any diagnosis within 24 to 48 hours.
Sedawie stated that he wanted to retain different counsel and that he wanted one he could give evidence to in his defence, including having his mother testify, who he said had witnessed the entire alleged incident.
A new trial date will be scheduled once Sedawie has retained new legal counsel.
A separate charge of assault against Sedawie is also currently scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 17, according to court records. That incident is alleged to have taken place in November 2021.
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