Paul Descoteau struggles over the murder of his son Derek every day. May 20 marks the three-year anniversary. (Photo submitted)

Island father’s anguish remains three years after son’s murder

Derek Descoteau remembered as a young man with such a great future ahead

Three years ago on May 20, 2016, Paul Descoteau was on his way home to Chemainus from work in Campbell River when he received the most horrifying news.

Daughter Paula Phillips had called him to relay the message that her brother and Paul’s son, Derek Descoteau, had been murdered.

“I don’t sleep at nights still to this day,” said Paul.

It’s the news no parent ever wants to receive. For Paul and his ex-wife Brenda Smith, it was a double dose of the unfathomable since they had lost another son, Dustin, in a car accident three years earlier.

As another anniversary of Derek’s death passes, the case is still before the courts. Colin John is facing a second-degree murder charge and a charge of the attempted murder of Derek’s girlfriend Janelle Guyatt.

Smith reported John’s trial is due to resume July 30 and continue until Aug. 16 after several previous delays.

“We’re still waiting for the not-criminally responsible assessment,” she said. “We were supposed to get that assessment by the beginning of April, but we’re still waiting.”

Defence lawyer Scott Sheets was also on hiatus for personal reasons since the last court proceedings in December, but is back on the case.

Paul’s been left on the outside of the court sessions to this point, making a difficult situation even harder to handle.

“I feel like I’m totally off to the side,” he said. “I could be a possible witness. I was prevented to be any part of this.”

All the information Paul’s received has been second hand and the murder of his son is constantly on his mind.

“I’ve got a lot of animosity,” he conceded.

“As a father, I didn’t get to see those boys excel. Derek, he didn’t get a chance to have a family. It was just so unfair to take his life and almost Janelle’s, too.”

Guyatt was seriously wounded in the attack and went through a fourth surgery earlier this year to repair nerve damage.

Guyatt and Derek had only been dating a short time before the incident. They were at Paul’s home when the murder occurred.

“I keep beating myself up too, if I’d taken Friday off,” noted Paul. “There’s so many hindsight issues. If only I’d sold that house earlier. I was planning on selling.”

He’d known John, who lived in the neighbourhood with his parents, during the 10 years he was in the house.

The pain never goes away for Paul.

“It’s there every day in my heart and my mind,” he conceded. “There’s never once I can actually say it’s just a dream.”

Paul said he’s grateful for the support of Tammy, whom he lived with for a while in Port Alberni after the incident. They were married in September of 2017.

“She’s been the biggest crutch that I’ve had,” said Paul.

And his daughter Paula has been instrumental in helping him through the ordeal since the loss of both boys.

There’s an orthodox ball tournament at the Cowichan Sportsplex in Duncan coming up May 25-26 to keep their spirit alive.

Paul credits Derek for helping him through a battle with alcoholism after the death of Dustin. Paul hasn’t drank any alcohol since 2014.

“In that sense, Derek saved my life,” said Paul. “I can’t tell you how good of a boy he was.”

Paul said he’s played the crime scene over in his mind countless times. It was too painful to return to the house and he eventually sold it.

Paul and Tammy now live in Lake Cowichan, but his mom still resides in Chemainus.

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