Sword-wielding man with PTSD given suspended sentence

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 25, 2014

Prince Edward Island provincial court

©Guardian photo

A Charlottetown man who is a Vietnam War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and told police he made a mistake when he waved a sword at two of his neighbours got a suspended sentence today in provincial court.  

Kenneth Docherty, 67, appeared before Chief Judge John Douglas in Charlottetown for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Docherty has been in custody since the July 1 incident and Douglas gave him credit for time served at a rate of time and a half.

RELATED: Charlottetown man arrested for threatening people with Samurai sword

The court heard that on Canada Day, Docherty was living in an apartment on University Avenue and at about 12:40 p.m. the police were called there after a complaint of a man swinging a sword at people.

When they arrived they looked in Docherty’s apartment window and saw two large knives on the floor next to his bed.

Docherty was in the bed and sat up when the police arrived.

“I made a mistake,” he told them.

Witnesses said Docherty had been clanging swords together and hitting or stabbing the door to the victims’ apartment a few doors down from his.

When one of the victims told Docherty he was scaring her, he told her he was sorry.

The other victim then grabbed a pair of shorts and managed to knock a sword out of Docherty’s hand.

The police found what were described as three samurai swords that Docherty later said he bought at Shoppers Drug Mart.

The court also heard that in April the police were called to Docherty’s mother’s house where they found him on a blood-stained bed after he cut himself in the stomach with a long military-style knife.

It was deemed a suicide attempt and the injuries were serious enough that at the time Docherty was given a 50 per cent chance of survival.

Docherty, who told police he had mental health issues, including PTSD, has spent time in Hillsborough Hospital and Crown attorney Valerie Moore said she had concerns about his mental health.

Defence lawyer Thane MacEachern said Docherty recognized the incident involving the swords was a serious matter but only remembered about four seconds of what happened and wasn’t sure why he did it because he held no ill will toward the victims.

It was an isolated incident indicative of Docherty’s mental health, MacEachern said.

In handing down a sentence, Douglas said he didn’t think any further jail time would serve any purpose.

Docherty will be on probation for 30 months, during which time he is banned from his former apartment building and from having any contact with the victims.

Douglas ordered weapons prohibitions and also banned Docherty from owning any swords or knives other than those used in the course of ordinary living.

Docherty will have to pay a $200 victim surcharge.