Stu­dent tells court of dorm room res­cue

Man says he tried choke­hold to break another male’s grip on woman in res­i­dence

The Province - - NEWS - KEITH FRASER kfraser@post­media.com twit­ter.com/kei­thrfraser

A Uni­ver­sity of B.C. stu­dent who came to the res­cue of another stu­dent be­ing as­saulted in her dorm room took the wit­ness stand Thurs­day at the trial of the man ac­cused of the crime.

Adam Casey said that he was re­turn­ing to his stu­dent res­i­dence af­ter at­tend­ing classes when sev­eral “pretty in­tense” women ran in to the res­i­dence’s com­mon build­ing and re­ported that some­one was chok­ing a per­son in the nearby Sal­ish house res­i­dence.

The 19-year-old me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing stu­dent said he asked if they had called 911 and when they replied that they had, he ran to­ward the Sal­ish res­i­dence and up the stairs to the room where the as­sault was oc­cur­ring.

The door to the room was slightly ajar and when he pushed the door open, he saw a man and a woman with the man’s hand around her neck, stran­gling her, Casey told B.C. Supreme Court Jus­tice Mar­got Flem­ing.

“I went to try to pry his hands off her neck,” Casey said. “I wasn’t able to do so. He was hold­ing on too tight.”

Casey, who has some mar­tial-arts train­ing, said he went be­hind the man and per­formed a choke­hold on him.

“I put my arm around his neck and my legs around his body for lever­age. I was hop­ing he’d re­lease the woman’s neck. He did not do that.”

He said he was able to put one arm un­der the as­sailant’s armpit and pull back his arm and held him there un­til sev­eral peo­ple came into the room and be­gan try­ing to pull the vic­tim away. “It was quite a strug­gle,” he said. Even­tu­ally, sev­eral oth­ers were able to drag the vic­tim away and into the hall­way, where she was treated for knife wounds to her neck.

Casey said he kept his choke­hold on the as­sailant, who he later iden­ti­fied as the ac­cused, Thamer Hameed Almes­tadi, for about another minute be­fore re­leas­ing him.

“I eased up on his neck to see how he would re­act and he didn’t re­act at all. When he be­came more re­spon­sive, I asked him if he was on drugs and he said no.”

Shortly after­ward, the po­lice ar­rived and took the sus­pect into cus­tody. Casey said he left the room and saw the vic­tim, Mary Hare, col­lapsed on the floor out­side the room and re­ceiv­ing first aid. He said he saw a knife on the ground in the hall­way.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Casey said he didn’t smell any al­co­hol on Almes­tadi, and the ac­cused didn’t seem ag­i­tated and didn’t strug­gle with po­lice when they ar­rived.

Almes­tadi has pleaded not guilty to the at­tempted mur­der of Hare. He also pleaded not guilty to ag­gra­vated as­sault and as­sault with a weapon.

Jamie Grant, a para­medic, tes­ti­fied that when he treated Almes­tadi for some cuts at the UBC RCMP jail, the ac­cused told him that ear­lier that morn­ing he felt like peo­ple were talk­ing about him and fol­low­ing him. He told the judge that Almes­tadi also said he’d been hav­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tions and hadn’t slept well in three weeks.

UBC stu­dent Thamer Hameed Almes­tadi has pleaded not guilty to at­tempted mur­der, ag­gra­vated as­sault and as­sault with a weapon in an al­leged 2016 at­tack on Mary Hare.

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