By Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Court has heard a man was experiencing psychosis and thought higher powers were telling him his relatives and a colleague were “contaminated by evil” the day he killed his parents and attacked a hospital nursing supervisor.
Trevor Farley believed he was directed by the Angel Gabrielto save his victims from a “demonic evil,” said an agreed statement of facts read in a Winnipeg courtroom Monday.
He was convinced he had to “cut the contamination in order to save the victims,” read Crown attorney Shannon Benevides.
Farley’s lawyer told Manitoba Court of Kings’ Bench Justice Kenneth Champagne that Farley acknowledges he committed the attacks, but should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
“Tragic doesn’t begin to describe this,” said Evan Roitenberg.
“The Farley family has lost their parents. An innocent person has been attacked at her workplace.”
Farley pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in his 73-year-old mother Judy Swain’s death, second-degree murder in his 73-year-old father Stuart Farley’s death and attempted murder in the stabbing of Candyce Szkwarek at Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg on Oct. 27, 2021.
Farley appeared in court wearing a light-coloured T-shirt and sweatpants. Members of his and Szkwarek’s family watched from the gallery.
Court heard that before he attacked his parents, he was “severely impacted by psychotic symptoms” that doctors later believed were linked to bipolar disorder and manic-depressive episodes.
A mental-health assessment was ordered shortly after police arrested Farley. Lawyers for the Crown accepted the doctors’ conclusion that Farley did not understand what he was doing at the time of the attacks.
“I would be unable to dispute it at trial after speaking with doctors,” said Benevides.
“(Farley’s) mental state caused him to believe (these acts) were morally justified.”
Mounties were doing a wellness check in the Rural Municipality of Hanover, south of Winnipeg, in the early afternoon and found Swain dead. Farley had stabbed his mother and repeatedly hit her in the head and face with a hammer, Benevides read from the statement of facts.
Officers advised Winnipeg police that Farley could be heading to the city.
Police had been tracking Farley’s cellphone and traced him back to Seven Oaks hospital, where he had worked as a nurse. Officers arrived shortly after Farley had attacked Szkwarek and arrested him on the spot, court heard.
Szkwarek told police Farley had a “cold, steely” look in his eyes before he started stabbing her. She required life-saving surgery and was hospitalized for nearly four months.
Police later found the body of the accused’s father, Stuart Farley, in Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. He had been stabbed more than 30 times.
Court heard Farley was at the time unvaccinated against COVID-19 and open about his opposition to the vaccine. Farley last worked with Szkwarek five days before the attack, when he seemed agitated and got into a heated debate with a doctor, said the agreed statement of facts.
He later sent an email saying he would resign.
Farley went to Winnipeg’s Crisis Response Centre and two local hospitals multiple times in the days leading up to the attacks.
At the crisis centre two days before the attacks, Farley was shaking and reported he may have COVID-19, court heard. He was directed to the Health Sciences Centre, where he reported he was having a mental-health crisis, said the agreed statement of facts.
Later, he visited another hospital and was prescribed an antidepressant. Farley told staff he was dealing with a “chronic mental-health issue,” was hearing voices and felt unsafe going home.
“Nobody could really pinpoint what Mr. Farley was experiencing at the time,” said Roitenberg.
The next day, he went to the crisis centre and voluntarily remained there overnight. The next morning, he told staff he believed he was a prophet and his phones were being hacked. He was then held on an involuntary hold, but left later in the morning for his father’s place. Staff called 911 to report Farley had left.
Farley, who was 37 at the time, was living on his own after separating from his wife of 12 years in August 2021, court heard. The two, who have four children together, remained in close contact after their separation.
His wife said in the agreed statement of facts that she had contacted the crisis centre at the end of August 2021 to express concerns about Farley’s paranoia. She said he started showing symptoms of poor mental health when he finished nursing school about a decade ago, and that included a cycle of insomnia and paranoia.
Champagne is expected to give his decision on Tuesday.