Student tells court of dorm room rescue
Man says he tried chokehold to break another male’s grip on woman in residence
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.