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Sentencing hearing for man who tried to strangle driver in Surrey and stabbed passenger in Aldergrove

The parents of 20-year-old Steven Fayant leave Surrey Provincial Court following his sentencing hearing Thursday.  - Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times
The parents of 20-year-old Steven Fayant leave Surrey Provincial Court following his sentencing hearing Thursday.
— image credit: Dan FERGUSON/Langley Times

Steven Fayant told a psychiatrist that he stabbed a Coast Mountain bus passenger because he thought the man was laughing at him and he choked a Coast Mountain bus driver because he didn't like the way the man was driving.

The statements made during a court-ordered psychiatric interview of the 20-year-old Surrey resident were read out in Surrey Provincial Court during Fayant's sentencing hearing Thursday morning.

Fayant, a gaunt, pale man with close-cropped hair and a goatee, sat impassively in the prisoner's docket as both the Crown prosecutor and his own lawyer said both attacks were completely unprovoked and irrational.

Crown counsel Angela Lee said Fayant talked his way into a free ride on both transit buses by pleading poverty.

On Feb. 18, he got on the bus near 76 Avenue and King George Blvd. and told the driver he didn't have enough for the fare.

"I'm kind of hurting," Fayant is quoted as saying.

Not long afterwards, the on-board bus security video recorded Fayant lunging at the driver and grabbing him around the throat.

The driver suffered a small nick to his neck, likely from a fingernail.

Fayant fled the scene.

He later told a psychiatrist that he tried to choke the driver because he didn't like the way the man was driving the bus.

On Feb. 21, Fayant stabbed a 41-year-old man in the back after both men got off a Coast Mountain bus near Aldergrove Centre Mall.

The injured man suffered a lacerated kidney and was unable to work for three months.

Fayant told the psychiatrist he believed two men sitting near him on the bus were laughing at him and were somehow connected to an 2010 incident where he was abducted and beaten over a drug debt.

In fact the victim had just moved to B.C. from Ontario and was talking with his brother.

Neither knew Fayant.

The psychiatric assessment rates Fayant as a high to high-to-moderate risk for violent behavior but there was "no suggestion of a serous mental disorder," prosecutor Lee said.

The assessment did suggest Fayant may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress and possibly drug-induced psychosis.

Fayant has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in the stabbing and common assault in the choking incident.

The Crown said given the "very serious" and unprovoked nature of the attacks, Fayant should be sentenced to three years in prison.

"These are very serious assaults on strangers," Lee said.

She also asked the judge to ban Fayant from riding transit buses after he is released from prison, saying it was a request of the Coast Mountain company.

Defence lawyer David Payne said his client clearly has mental health issues, but has refused to allow his lawyer to have him declared mentally incompetent for fear of being permanently committed to an institution.

Payne said Fayant's behaviour immediately after his arrest was "bizarre" describing how his client would stand stationary in his cell for several hours at a time, just inches away from a window.

"We are dealing with someone who has mental health issues," Payne said.

After the 2010 abduction attack, Payne said Fayant's already fragile mental condition worsened.

"His paranoia was off the charts," Payne said.

The lawyer said once the imprisoned Fayant was sent to a psychiatric facility and medicated, his condition improved.

But Fayant has been returned to the general prison population and no longer medicated, Payne said, and his condition is deteriorating.

He proposed a sentence that, with credit for time served, would see Fayant freed in about two months to undergo compulsory treatment.

The hearing was attended by Fayant's mother and father, the driver he attacked and representatives of the bus company.

Fayant's parents did not want to give their names or to be interviewed, but the mother could be heard outside court expressing concern about the fate of her son in the regular prison population.

She said she would prefer to see him get treatment.

"He's still savable," she said.

The driver also declined to give his name.

He told reporters that the incident has left him apprehensive, to the point where he avoids making eye contact with passengers as they board to avoid a repeat of the surprise assault he endured.

"It was so shocking and so sudden," the driver said.

Judge Paul Dohm will render his verdict on Jan. 8 at 1:30 p.m.

 

 

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