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BC Crown urges rejection of ‘homophobic rage’ defence in stabbing death case

'I started to lose it because I have a fear of homosexuals,' accused told court

A Crown prosecutor has urged a BC Supreme Court judge to reject a “homophobic rage” provocation when sentencing a 65-year-old man convicted by a jury of the August 2004 stabbing death of a 79-year-old man in a Downtown Eastside hotel.

Crown prosecutor Geordie Proulx told Justice Gail Dickson Feb 6 that George Phillip Holt “lost it” when Reginald Haynes offered him $50 for oral sex. Holt had gone to Haynes to get money to buy crack cocaine, he said.

The court heard that Haynes died within 10 minutes of being stabbed 134 times on Aug 27, 2004. A jury convicted Holt of second-degree murder in November 2011. He was not arrested for the killing until December 2009.

Defence lawyer Steve McMurdo told Dickson that Holt had been sexually abused in mental institutions and was “very uncomfortable” if he was touched in any way by a male. “He does not respond this way if he is touched by a female,” McMurdo said.

Proulx told the judge Holt had changed his story repeatedly and had problems separating fact from reality. “He’s a liar, and maybe he doesn’t know he’s lying,” Proulx added. He called Holt “pathetic” and said the accused had a “high degree of unsophistication.” Holt should receive life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 14 years, Proulx told the court.

The idea that Haynes made a homosexual advance or suggestion should be given no more weight than the suggestion that Holt took Haynes’s pulse after stabbing him repeatedly, Proulx said. “It’s entirely based on the accused’s uncorroborated testimony.”

Proulx said Holt called for help for himself because he was cut when he took the knife from Haynes as the assault began. “He sought medical attention for himself, not for the deceased.”

Someone who was in a neighbouring room at the time of the attack said they heard banging on the walls, grunting and a high-pitched scream, Proulx said, calling the attack “prolonged, brutal and callous.”

Holt took the stand in the trial, a fact McMurdo said should be taken into account because it indicated that Holt was accepting responsibility for taking the man’s life.

As sentencing submissions were made, Holt was in a wheelchair, an oxygen cylinder at his side. He occasionally puffed on an inhaler. He testified at trial that he was high on cocaine at the time Haynes asked him to perform oral sex.

“I started to lose it because I have a fear of homosexuals,” Holt told the jury, but he testified he didn’t remember stabbing Haynes. McMurdo said that the substance use is not a defence but that Holt’s behaviour was consistent with an aberrant emotional reaction to something other than a $40-$50 money issue.

Dickson heard that blood was found on Haynes’s feet, indicating he was standing as he was being stabbed. And, she was told, his blood was also on the deadbolt of the door, indicating he had tried to escape.

The court also heard that most of Haynes’s wounds were to his head, neck and face, although some on his hands and arms could have been defensive wounds; his jugular and carotid arteries were severed. Holt’s blood was found in Haynes’s room, but he originally denied being involved. Instead, he blamed the crime on two other men.

Holt will be sentenced Feb 20.