LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A southern Alberta man with mental health issues has been sentenced to five years in jail for stabbing his parents.
Nigel Vermeulen, who is 29, had pleaded guilty in Lethbridge court to one count of attempted murder and another of assault with a weapon.
Court heard he stabbed his 72-year-old father in the neck and his 62-year-old mother in the leg.
The sentence was recommended as part of a joint submission by the Crown and defence.
An assessment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre determined that he was fit to stand trial and did not meet the criteria to be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
Vermeulen has been diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder, selective mutism, delusional disorder and an unspecified personality disorder.
“It seems to me there is no rational explanation for the perpetration of these crimes by Mr. Vermeulen,” Provincial court Judge Eric Peterson said Wednesday before delivering the sentence.
“He is mentally ill, but not to the extent that it would excuse his conduct.”
Court heard that Vermeulen’s parents became aware of his mental health problems when he was still very young.
He continued to live with them as an adult, having quit school early and never got a job.
Vermeulen would only leave the house to go for walks with his father or to get groceries with his mother.
On Feb. 11, Vermeulen’s mother woke to her husband screaming and a sharp pain in her knee.
She called out to Vermeulen but then found her husband bleeding heavily from the neck and called 911.
The Crown says he was lucky to survive the wound.
Lethbridge Police later found Vermeulen not far from home and took him into custody.
During an interview in which he would only respond by writing, Vermeulen said he felt the only way he could start his own life was by killing his parents.
Police also found a journal entry that Vermeulen had entered into his computer before the stabbing attacks.
“Can’t sleep, hungry, so might as well kill my parents,” he wrote according to the agreed statement of facts. “Going to knife them and hope it works … all that matters is killing them.”
The Crown also noted that aside from the remorse demonstrated by entering a guilty plea, Vermeulen hasn’t shown any other signs of empathy towards his parents. (LethbridgeNewsNow)