The Daily Courier

Son pleads guilty to mother’s brutal assault


An attempted murder trial came to an abrupt end Tuesday when a West Kelowna man pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother.

Kevin Lee Barrett admitted beating and choking Eleanor Holmes before throwing her down a forest ravine.

“Rest in peace, you (expletive) bitch,” Barrett, 59, said as his 79-yearold mother tumbled down a remote embankment along Hidden Lake Road, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Holmes had been expected to take the stand Tuesday, but Crown counsel Patricia O’Neil and defence lawyer Jordan Watt told the judge that Barrett had agreed to plead guilty to aggravated assault.

Proceeding­s then changed from a trial to a sentencing hearing, which was underway Tuesday afternoon at the Kelowna courthouse.

Court heard Barrett has bipolar disorder but frequently goes off his medication. His mental-health problems have been exacerbate­d by a long history of alcohol abuse.

Though Barrett was often verbally abusive toward his mother, she allowed him to live with her at her home in a West Kelowna trailer park after the rest of the family turned their backs on him.

“She loved him and she did not want him to be homeless,” O’Neil said.

On April 29, 2019, Barrett, who did not have a driver’s licence, asked his mother to drive him to a mailbox. His mood, court heard, was loving.

“Mr. Barrett kissed Mrs. Holmes and told him she was the best mom a man his age could ever have,” O’Neil said.

But when Barrett asked to drive and his mom said “no,” he flew into a violent rage. Holmes told investigat­ors it was as if her son had turned into “Satan himself,” O’Neil said.

Barrett savagely beat his mother, using both his fists and a blunt object to hit her in the face, head, neck, stomach, and legs. He yanked out much of her hair, hit her so hard her dentures were dislodged, bit her, and choked her with a seatbelt.

“Mrs. Holmes believed Mr. Barrett was going to kill her,” O’Neil said. Holmes decided to “play dead,” O’Neil said, believing it would spare her further assault.

Off Hidden Lake Road, Barrett stopped the car and dragged his mother out. After throwing her down a 100-metre embankment toward a creek, he used her bank card to buy liquor and ice cream, then returned to the trailer.

Holmes was able to climb up the embankment. Barefoot, bloodied, and cold, she was discovered by a West Kelowna couple who happened to be in the area.

Barrett was quickly arrested at the trailer and has been in custody for almost two years. In January 2020, Holmes told investigat­ors she loved her son and forgave him.

“That speaks to the depth of her compassion as well as the profoundne­ss of a mother’s attachment to her child,” O’Neil said.

But in a five-sentence victim impact statement, written by Holmes earlier this week and read into the court record on Tuesday, she said: “I’m terrified of Kevin. I’m old and have a bad heart. I do not want Kevin back here.”

His sentencing hearing is still underway at Kelowna courthouse. The Crown is seeking 8-9 years.

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