A Vancouver Island man who pleaded guilty to stabbing a stranger to death outside his grandparents’ home in Nanaimo, B.C., has been found not criminally responsible for the woman’s murder because of a mental disorder.
Simon James Baker, then 21, attacked Denise Allick, 41, in 2022, fatally stabbing her six times in the face, neck and shoulder.
On Wednesday, BC Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson found “that at the time Mr. Baker stabbed Ms. Allick, he was incapable of rationally considering whether reasonable members of society would morally condemn his conduct in the particular circumstances.”
The court heard that Baker had been watching TV with his grandparents on June 20, 2022 and planned to visit a friend’s house later that night. At approximately 10:10 p.m., he told his grandmother that he was going out for a cigarette, and she told him that she would take him to a friend’s house when he was ready to go.
A minute or two later, the grandmother heard a woman screaming outside the house. She opened the door to find Allick bleeding on the floor, with Baker standing nearby saying that this girl attacked me, the judge wrote in his decision, posted online Friday.
Baker got in unharmed and told his grandfather, who was partially deaf, that there was a bloody woman outside.
Allick was still breathing when the grandmother called 911, but she died during the six-minute call, according to the judge. A stab wound to her neck severed her left carotid artery, causing her death, the court heard.
‘IS THAT WOMAN OK?’
While his grandmother was on the phone with a 911 operator, Baker called a cab and asked to be picked up at a nearby school. He was picked up at 10.25pm and a taxi took him home where he was apprehended by Mounties at around 10.36pm.
Police found a knife in the pocket of Baker’s hoodie, and he told police he was an opiate addict and that he had taken a small amount of the drug an hour earlier, but began experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
“Is this woman okay?” Baker asked police as he was transported to the Nanaimo RCMP detachment. At the police station, when told a second time he was under arrest for murder, he replied: “So it’s not right,” the court heard.
The judge said it remained unclear why Allick was in the house that night.
“There is no evidence that Mr Baker knew Ms Allick and no evidence to reveal why she was at Mr Baker’s grandparents’ property,” he said.
The Victoria woman had been drinking with a friend at the Nanaimo home when they went to a liquor store a few blocks from Baker’s grandparents’ house around 9 p.m.
After leaving the liquor store, Allick went to a nearby petrol station to buy cigarettes, where she bumped into the 11-year-old child of her friend’s ex-partner, the court heard.
“Mrs Allick screamed and grabbed the baby,” the judge said. “After this altercation, Ms. Allick’s friend walked home and Ms. Allick left in her car. The car was eventually located on 8th Street, parked on the same block as Mr. Baker’s grandparents’ home.”
DEMONIC POSSESSION AND DRUG USE
Two forensic psychiatrists testified that Baker was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the murder, coupled with very serious substance use disorders. Baker was on antipsychotic medication and was almost due for a monthly injection, the judge said.
Baker had his first mental health evaluation in December 2017 when he was 17 years old.
He told doctors that he was experiencing delusions and hallucinations of people breaking into his home. He was hospitalized for several weeks and “persistently held to the idea that he had been hit in the knee with a baseball bat in the emergency room and that his mother had been raped in the emergency room,” the judge said.
In 2018, he was prescribed monthly injections of the antipsychotic drug Abilify (aripiprazole), but in the following years he continued to experience occasional psychotic episodes, including at least two in which he brandished knives.
During an interview with police two days after the murder, Baker’s mother told investigators that her son had been “paranoid, delusional and very concerned about trespassing on his property” for months.
She also said her son believed he was possessed by a demon at his grandparents’ house, and she described his drug use, which escalated as a teenager from alcohol and marijuana to cocaine and eventually fentanyl.
“It is clear from his interactions with police and hospital staff and from his family’s accounts that he was intermittently psychotic with marked paranoia in the months leading up to the incident. For several years he believed he was about to be attacked in his own home,” the judge said.
“I think it is probably true that this horrific event unfolded in a matter of seconds. I find that Mr. Baker acted on an impulse rooted in paranoia when he stabbed Ms. Allick, with little or no chance of rational consideration.”
A judge ordered that Baker be held in custody at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., pending a decision by the provincial review board.