A Winnipeg woman who suffered life-threatening injuries after her coworker stabbed her more than a dozen times told a judge she is haunted by the attack and fears being in public nearly two years later.
"My life was so very close to ending that day," Candyce Szkwarek read from a victim impact statement in court on Tuesday.
"I have a constant daily reminder when I look in the mirror and see all these scars from the stab wounds and surgeries. They all take me back to that day."
Court of King's Bench Justice Kenneth Champagne found Trevor Farley not criminally responsible for killing his 73-year-old parents and attacking Szkwarek. Farley had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his mother Judy Swain, second-degree murder in the death of his father Stuart Farley and attempted murder in the stabbing of Szkwarek.
Farley's lawyer said his client acknowledges he committed the attacks, and the defence and Crown agreed he should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
Court heard Farley was "severely impacted by psychotic symptoms" at the time of the attacks, including auditory hallucinations that led him to believe he was a messiah and bouts of paranoia.
"By outward appearances, Mr. Farley was leading a productive life," said Champagne. "Behind closed doors, there were concerns about his mental health."
Court heard Farley was under an involuntary hold at Winnipeg's Crisis Response Centre when he left on Oct. 27, 2021, and went to his father's place in the West End neighbourhood. Staff called police to report Farley had gone.
Farley stabbed his father more than 30 times, court heard. He then went to his mother's home in the Rural Municipality of Hanover, south of Winnipeg, and repeatedly stabbed her. Farley's mother was on the phone with her son's estranged wife, who called police. Mounties went to Swain's home to do a wellness check.
Farley eventually made his way to Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg, where he had worked as a nurse. Shortly after entering the hospital, Farley saw Szkwarek, approached her and began stabbing her.
Officers arrested Farley shortly after.
"These violent and horrific acts took place in less than three hours," Champagne said in his decision.
Since the attack, Szkwarek has had multiple surgeries and needs more. She was hospitalized for four months and has been unable to return to work as a nursing supervisor.
Szkwarek has partial use of her right arm, but said she still has difficulty with writing, typing and household chores. She can no longer take part in some of her favourite activities, including knitting and crocheting.
Her daughter, Jackie Motoch, told court her mother is a "kind and gentle soul" who took pride in her ability to take care of others.
"Farley took that independence away from her," Motoch said in her victim impact statement.
"She lives in fear every day."
Court heard 14 people witnessed the attack on Szkwarek.
Lori Schellenberg and Heloise Buhler told court they were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the stabbing. They both struggle with anxiety and had to take time off work.
In the days leading up to the attacks, Farley's mental health rapidly declined, Champagne said in his decision. Court heard Farley had gone multiple times to the crisis centre and two Winnipeg hospitals. Some staff noticed he was disorganized with his thoughts and seemed to believe he was a prophet. Farley was given antidepressants while visiting one hospital.
Independent doctors reviewed Farley's family, medical, education and employment history and determined he was likely suffering from multiple disorders with psychotic symptoms at the time of the attacks.
When someone is found not criminally responsible of an offence, provincial or territorial mental-health review boards determine whether it's safe for them to be released into the community and what freedoms they should have.
Crown prosecutors are requesting the court designate Farley as a high-risk accused, a move Farley's lawyers aren't opposing.
Those designated high-risk may be required to stay in mental-health hospitals longer and require more security. The may also only be allowed to leave a facility for supervised appointments.
Moments after court wrapped for the day, Szkwarek walked across the gallery to where Farley's family was sitting. She offered her hand to one of his brothers and the two embraced.
"I just felt the need to go and comfort them, and tell them that I don't hold anything against them," she later told reporters.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 17, 2023.