“The most frustrating trial” over a defence counsel’s 30-year career is now left in the hands of a jury to deliberate.
Stan Tessmer, lawyer for Gregory Stanley Nield, who is facing charges of assault of his psychiatrist after leaving him with a broken jaw and prosthetic implant in his cheekbone, turned the tables accusing Dr. Rajeev Sheoran.
“I hesitate to name call, but I wouldn’t wish Dr. Sheoran on my worst enemy. In my opinion, and I’m going to tell you the evidence which supports me, he’s committed malpractice, he’s commited fraud and obstruction of justice,” Tessmer said, prior to Justice Hope Hyslop interjecting telling him to stop making those comments during his closing arguments on Thursday.
Tessmer told the jury there was a lot of evidence he wasn’t able to touch on, noting a large, annotated book on pharmaceuticals and an encyclopedia of psychadelics he prepared which never came into play in the trial. Debate over what could be examined in front of the jury consumed much of their days in court.
“This case is all about the missing facts,” Tessmer said in Penticton Supreme Court. “I feel I’ve been placed in a straight jacket trying to defend Mr. Nield.”
He said his client was confined by Dr. Sheoran and that Nield’s condition deteriorated under the care of the doctor.
Tessmer noted a consultation report was supposed to be done on Nov. 24, 2014 which Dr. Sheoran had billed for, but was never completed by the time of the alleged Dec. 5 assault. Dr. Sheoran testified the reports aren’t always completed immediately. The defence lawyer also alleged there was a consultation billed for Dec. 2, but he said there is no record of Dr. Sheoran seeing Nield on that date.
Dr. Sheoran testified “I likely was there.”
Tessmer pointed to Dr. Sheoran’s evidence stating he took Nield’s hospital chart in to the interview room when he met with Nield on Dec. 5, planning to prepare the consultation report then.
“(The documents) got blood on them (Dr. Sheoran) said. They were blood spattered. When you see the pictures taken by police, sometime later, the clock says five o’clock, where are those documents?” Tessmer said.
He pointed to testimony a day earlier by nurse Lenora Kukkonen who was on staff at the time of the incident. She testified Nield’s chart was in the nurse’s station at the time.
“Why would he lie about that? Well, he lied about it because he removed the chart, or the documents, earlier from my client’s file and they were in his personal possession somewhere,” Tessmer said. “He knows full well, he admitted you’re not supposed to take hospital records from the hospital.”
Tessmer said there is either a conspiracy among the nurses or “one liar, who’s perjured himself in my respectful opinion.”
It was not Dr. Sheoran’s plan to intentionally lock up Nield, Tessmer said.
“This is one of those things where a little problem turns into something huge. My theory is he was negligent, or grossly negligent, in the committal of my client and he recognized that and then one thing led to another,” Tessmer said.
A reasonable person who believed they were being held and given drugs against their will would be entitled to assault their captor, Tessmer told the jury.
The jury has little evidence to go on when it comes to the conclusions of the defence, Crown counsel Sarah Firestone said in her closing argument Thursday.
It was a much more straightforward account from Crown, noting the testimony of what the nurses on duty observed before and after the alleged assault, the testimony of what Dr. Sheoran recalled and the law surrounding Nield’s mental state at the time.
“Even if you were to find that Mr. Nield did not remember what happened inside the room, based on the observations of the nurses and the police officers, that still doesn’t tell you what was in the mind of Mr. Nield at the time he struck Dr. Sheoran,” Firestone said. “Even a person who does have a mental disorder is capable of forming intent to assault.”
She noted two instances where Nield had escaped the psych ward earlier by climbing a fence near the facility’s gym, taking on the defence’s assertion the accused was held against his will.
Crown admitted it is “not entirely clear” how certain documents were in Dr. Sheoran’s possession outside Nield’s hospital chart.
“But in the whole of the case, on the whole of the evidence, that actually doesn’t change the facts of what occurred on Dec. 5, 2014,” Firestone said.
The jury returns Friday where they will be read the charge and are expected to head into deliberations. Visit pentictonwesternnews.com for updates.