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Trial begins for Penticton man accused of stabbing

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Scales of justice.
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A Penticton woman said her good friend, Clayton Raymond Bonthoux, is no longer the same person after suffering a stab wound last summer.

It is alleged Joshua Rex Mason committed aggravated assault on Bonthoux at a residence on Power Street on July 27, 2012.

"He is better now but it took quite a few months. He is still not physically himself. He is a little slow," Samantha Clark testified on Monday at the Penticton courthouse, adding Bonthoux seems depressed now.

Clark said everyone in the residence on Power Street that day was intoxicated but she was probably the most sober. She testified an argument between the two men started over Mason forging Bonthoux's signature on an intent to rent form in order to get a social assistance cheque. Mason was at the house with a woman not allowed to be at the residence. The woman would not leave causing Clark to have to physically remove her and the pair exchanged some blows. The court heard Mason was also physically removed from the property and Clark heard him threaten to the house guests that he was going to "(expletive) kill you" and that he was going to call the Hell's Angels.

Clark said the house calmed down after Mason left but within 15 minutes things got fired back up. While the house guests had moved to sitting outside on the porch, Clark said a man named Pat came walking towards the gate and Bonthoux met him at the property line. She said the next thing she saw was Mason appearing in front of Bonthoux taking a punch at him in the upper chest area. Clark saw Mason leave and Bonthoux walk back to the porch holding his body where he was punched. It was when he let go of the injured area she knew it was much more serious.

"Blood spurted out and up my arm," said Clark, who at the time believed her friend was going to die because of the blood loss.

The woman said she ran after Mason, finding him after a bus driver at Queen's Park school pointed which direction he went. She said she followed Mason until he went inside a house and he had told her to "keep her mouth shut" when she verbally confronted him.

Defence counsel Michael Welsh questioned Clark about her initial statement to police where she said she did not witness Mason stab anyone. She told RCMP that she did not see anything and that all she knew came "after the fact." Clark admitted that was what she said and had thought it was just a punch. She also told the court that Mason had showed her what she called a "darning needle" that was attached to a keychain before the assault took place.

A bus driver with Okanagan Hockey School testified he saw the stabbing and the man who committed the assault "nonchalantly" walk away disposing of the knife in nearby bushes.

Neil Britton had been dropping off kids from the hockey school at Queen's Park when he saw what he believed was about to be two men fighting. He said one man standing inside the gate took a "laxadaisical" punch at the man standing outside the gate who then reacted with his own lunge. Britton said the man then put his arm down to his side and he saw a "paring knife" with a four to five inch blade. He saw the man then walk away, motioning like he was unravelling a tensor bandage and then toss the knife into a bush before hopping a fence and taking off. Britton said a woman came out and he indicated which direction the man went. He said later when he was showing RCMP where the knife was the officer found a carpal tunnel bandage and a knife in the bushes. Britton said another knife was also found in the bushes but it was a larger, along the lines of a butcher knife.

Another female witness testified on Monday that she was scared to come forward with information about a conversation she had with Mason until months after the incident. The woman said she encountered Mason, who she called a casual acquaintance, and a woman at the lake and shared an alcoholic beverage with them. The woman said Mason told her to come to a house party and that "he was going to stab Clay at the party."

Defence counsel asked why the woman did not bother to call her friend to let him know that someone was out to stab him, but she said she was too scared to call the police, had lost Bonthoux's phone number and was unsure of where he was living at the time. The woman testified that she thought it was just a threat and didn't think Mason would back it up.

The assault trial is expected to take four days and Crown counsel Vern Frolick said he will be calling 20 witnesses.

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