A Maple Ridge man charged with stabbing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend multiple times after breaking in to a Chilliwack townhouse was released on a $25,000 surety and strict bail conditions in court on Feb. 5.
Robert Charles Fleming faces six charges in connection with the Jan. 11 incident, in addition to a charge of criminal harassment from early in December.
He is charged with break and enter, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault with a weapon, and one count of uttering threats to kill an animal or bird.
The latter charge stems from words he allegedly spoke as he left the ex-girlfriend’s apartment after the stabbing: “He said ‘Why do people do this to me?” Judge Jay Solomon said. “‘The dogs are going to die.'”
The two apparently owned at least one dog in common prior to their separation.
In requesting bail, Fleming’s lawyer Paul Dutt said his client did not dispute the stabbing took place, but that Fleming claims it was a case of self-defence.
“He has no motive to hurt her,” Dutt told the court.
Given the nature of what happened that night, Crown counsel David Silverman suggested the notion of self-defence was “questionable at best” given that Fleming had no “colour of right” to be in the unit. (“Colour of right” is a legal term referring to an accused’s right to use or be in possession of someone else’s property.)
It was just before midnight on Jan. 10 when Chilliwack RCMP received a report of the stabbing at a townhouse on Hodgins Avenue. Two victims were located, one was brought to Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) the other taken to Royal Columbian Hospital.
There was an armed police presence at the emergency entrance at CGH after the incident, as it was believed Fleming might have fled the scene attempting to attend the hospital.
He was in communication with police and later met with them where he was placed under arrest. He declined to provide any statement to officers, which is his right.
Judge Jay Solomon heard from Silverman that Fleming arrived at the residence, pounded on the front door then walked around to the back. There he climbed a ladder to the bedroom window, broke the window and entered.
What happened next was the subject of dispute between Crown and defence. Silverman said Fleming fired off bear spray and the two victims were stabbed with a folding knife.
His ex-girlfriend, S.B., received a deep stab wound to her elbow and multiple slashes elsewhere, the new boyfriend J.P. received eight stab wounds in addition to slashes.
“He received eight stab wounds in total to the neck, shoulder, back, chest, abdomen and several slash wounds to the torso and abdomen, some as deep as two inches,” Solomon read into the court record in rendering his bail decision.
In asking for strict bail conditions for the 40-year-old, Solomon said authorities are concerned about the fact that the accused legally possesses 15 firearms, including two handguns, and various archery equipment and other weaponry.
The judge relayed from a letter from the Chilliwack RCMP that Fleming is designated as a “highest risk domestic offender” by police, and that the victims are suffering emotionally and are concerned for their safety.
In his defence, Fleming argued that he was friends with the victim and attended the day of the stabbing to talk to her. He knocked on the door and heard what he described as “panic barking” by her dog.
He went around back, found a ladder up against the house and claimed that he was concerned for his ex-girlfriend’s safety, and that he did not know she had a new boyfriend.
He admits breaking in, then realizing it was a consensual situation with his ex and a new male, he started to leave.
He said then he was tackled by his ex-girlfriend who put him in a choke hold, while the new boyfriend punched him in the head. So he pulled out a pocket knife he always had on him and defended himself.
“While he is being taken down he used force as necessary,” Dutt told the court. “He is not taking issue with the injuries [to the victims]… He is essentially fighting for his life.”
As to the threat to the dogs, Dutt said his client is an animal lover with two dogs of his own, at least one a rescue, and he would never harm a dog.
“He cares immensely for all dogs.”
In the end, Judge Solomon ordered him released on a $25,000 surety. His Fleming’s parents were in the courtroom to support him, as was a close friend who agreed to act as the surety.
He has no criminal record and in a letter, his step-father told the court this was out of character for him.
Solomon further ordered a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, an electronic monitoring bracelet, that he be nowhere near any weapons, that he stay away from the victims, and a no-go to the communities of Chilliwack or Hope, except for attending court appearances.