An unsuccessful murder-suicide was a result of despair and mental health issues, said a Penticton judge.
Donald Robert Thompson turned on all four burners on the stove, cut the circuit breaker, disabled the smoke and CO2 detectors and consumed nine sleeping pills on Aug. 2, 2016 before getting into bed beside his sleeping wife. It was an attempt to take both their lives that was thwarted when she woke up around 4:45 a.m. and could smell the gas.
Despite being found criminally sane, Judge Gail Sinclair gave Thompson a one year sentence for administering a noxious thing with intent to endanger — a charge that can have a maximum sentence of up to 14 years.
“This is a mental health issue more than anything else. I don’t detract from the offence or potential severity. This man needs treatment, that is clear,” said Sinclair.
Thompson and his wife had been in a discussion about their life earlier that evening. He had lost his two jobs and subsequently was being kicked out of the Osoyoos apartment they had been provided only while working as the building maintenance manager. His wife, who was off work due to injury, challenged him to what the were going to do with no home and no money.
In her statement to RCMP she said “it was the trigger that sent him over.”
In the six months prior, Thompson had attempted suicide three times. The Australian who immigrated to Canada to join his wife, was depressed and dealing with an addiction to porn. Charges were not immediately laid on Thompson, instead RCMP took him to the Penticton psychiatric unit. It was here that Thompson admitted he wanted to kill himself and did not want his wife of 13 years to grieve or worry about a future without him. Believing she would not be able to cope, he decided to kill both of them.
Thompson’s wife read her victim impact statement in Penticton Provincial Court on Tuesday, stating she leaned on her husband for support and since his incarceration has had her own battle with mental health issues. She said she still loves her husband and wants to work on their relationship moving forward.
Both Thompson’s placed some blame on psychiatric services in Penticton and Kelowna for not recognizing the severity of the mental health struggles he was going through in his prior attempts at suicide.
“I believe my husband is remorseful. He is not a violent man. He has no criminal record and has never broken the law in Canada. We are here today because he fell through the cracks of the mental health system,” she said through tears.
Thompson had expressed remorse throughout the process leading up to his guilty plea. He apologized again in court, saying that the most important person his apology goes to is his wife.
Thompson has been in jail since Aug. 19, 2016 and will have 86 days left to serve on his sentence before he will be released from jail. He will then be on two years probation, during which time he will have to abide by an order to take all medication prescribed to him and to not have contact with his wife unless authorized by the probation officer.