‘Please forgive me:’ Crown seeks 8-year sentence for Peterborough man who killed his father

Breaking into tears, Thomas Chan apologized multiple times for his violent acts on Dec. 28, 2015.

“It’s OK for you to hate me,” Chan said to Lynn Witteveen, one of his victims. “I hate myself for what I’ve done.”

The other victim is Chan’s father, Dr. Andrew Chan.

According to the court, he was killed after Thomas, high on magic mushrooms, broke into Dr. Chan’s Haggis Drive home and stabbed Dr. Chan to death with a kitchen knife. Thomas then attacked Witteveen, stabbing her multiple times in the head, face, neck and abdomen, as agreed by the Crown and defence.

His lawyers, Dave McFadden and Joleen Hiland, unsuccessfully argued that the magic mushrooms, combined with Thomas’s history of concussions and depression during his early teen years, put Chan in a psychotic state, and he was unable to appreciate the consequences of his actions. They asked the court to find Chan not criminally responsible for the attack.

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Chan, 22, was convicted of manslaughter and aggravated assault in December following a month-long trial.

Sentencing submissions took place on Tuesday in Superior Court.

The morning began with victim impact statements from those who knew Dr. Chan and Witteveen, many stating that the community lost an important and dedicated medical professional with Dr. Chan’s death, some describing him as a dedicated doctor who worked hard to put together his clinic to better serve Peterborough patients.

Witteveen was the last to take the stand, and began crying moments into her testimony.

She began by describing a long list of medical procedures and symptoms she has endured and will continue to endure since the attack.

She said all her injuries have been psychologically devastating.

Once a competent employee who ran a state-of-the-art medical clinic, Witteveen says she now struggles to use a phone and computer due to injuries to her vocal cords and arm. Even holding a cup of tea, she said, is difficult.

Witteveen is now blind in one eye, has had three surgeries on her abdomen and takes multiple medications to get through the day. She told court her injuries have affected everyone around her, and she’s had to rely on her children for support during her recovery.

Now, she told court, she lives in fear.

“I fear not remembering the sound of his voice, the softness of his touch,” she told the court.

Then, she said, there’s the fear that she’ll be told she needs another surgery, fear that she won’t be able to work again and fear that she’ll lose her home.

“And now I fear Thomas, someone I once loved with all my heart,” Witteveen said, as tears rolled down her face. “Our family is torn apart.”

She survived her attack, she said, but Chan’s actions have resulted in a life sentence for her and her family.

“We will go on because Andrew would have wanted us to,” Witteveen said. “Andrew saved lives every day. I only wish I could have saved his.”

Chan was the last to speak to the court on Tuesday.

He began by telling Lynn he would like to be part of her life, and be part of her recovery if she would let him. But, he said, he understood if that couldn’t happen.

Addressing his mother, sister and friends — many of whom have sat in the body of the court during his trial — Chan began to cry, apologizing to each of them for what happened.

As he finished his statement, Chan addressed his father directly, stating that he knew Dr. Chan was there with him.

“Please forgive me,” Chan said, his voice breaking.

“I will make you proud. I miss you every day,” Chan said. “I love you, Dad.”

The Crown is seeking a sentence of eight years, arguing that the crime called for strong denunciation from the court.

Crown attorney Andrew Midwood asked the judge to put himself in the shoes of Dr. Chan and Witteveen, and think of the terror they must have felt that night after first hearing someone break into their home, then being violently attacked by Dr. Chan’s son.

“The horror and confusion they felt as they begged, ‘Thomas, it’s Daddy, Thomas, I love you,’” Midwood said, referring to Dr. Chan’s and Witteveen’s pleas to Thomas as he attacked them with a kitchen knife.

Chan’s lawyers are seeking a sentence of four to five years, arguing that there is a lack of moral blame-worthiness on Chan’s part due to his intoxicated state.

Chan, McFadden said, is a good citizen who shows no sign of being a danger to anyone and is highly unlikely to re-offend.

The defence is also asking the judge to give Chan credit for the time he’s spent in pretrial custody and for what McFadden described as strict bail conditions.

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