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NANAIMO — A Qualicum Beach couple is frustrated by a lack of support for their addicted son after he stabbed them in what his lawyer described as a dispute over alcohol.
Stephen Rivington, 47, appeared in Nanaimo Provincial Court on Monday, April 10, after pleading guilty to a pair of aggravated assault charges. In November, 2015 Rivington stabbed his elderly parents in their home in Qualicum Beach’s Chartwell subdivision.
Rivington’s mother, Sandra Odendaal, sustained serious wounds in the attack. Her primary injuries were to two upper vertebrae, temporarily leaving her a paraplegic. She was hospitalized for six weeks, followed by intensive outpatient therapy.
She offered unwavering support for her son as she spoke in Court Monday.
“When I think of Stephen, I think of a son who is supportive and will always greet us with a hug. The single (biggest) factor in our healing is having contact with our son,” she said.
She said she was initially sad about what the stabbing did to the family. Odendaal said she then became upset about the lack of support for their family in the months following.
“I was very angry that all of our efforts to get help for Stephen and support for ourselves was answered by one phrase over and over again, ‘kick him out, put him on the street, he’ll figure it out.’”
Rivington’s stepfather, Willam Odendaal, received a punctured lung and minor stab wounds. He told Court he has no long-term effects physically from the stabbing, but the incident did leave emotional scars.
“Upon reflection, I’m very despondent at the lack support our son has received for the disease of alcoholism, which in my opinion was the main reason for the attack in the first place,” Odendaal said.
“The parents report that the immediate source of the conflict on the 18th of November, 2015, was demands for more alcohol, followed by reactive violence,” defence counsel Chris Churchill explained to the court room.
Churchill noted Rivington had a career as a pharmacist which was sabotaged by alcohol. He said his client had no prior history of violence and the stabbings were reactive and not premeditated. He said Rivington has remained sober since.
Rivington was visibly emotional as his parents addressed the Court, sitting just a few feet away in the prisoner’s box. Court heard Rivington sustained a serious self-inflicted neck wound, which Churchill said nearly killed him.
Rivington expressed remorse and vowed to do whatever possible to return to the community as a productive, healthy citizen.
“Over the past 17 months we have worked together to heal as a family both mentally and physically,” Rivington said.
He said his greatest wish is to reconnect with his parents as they grow older and be a good father to his daughters.
The Crown and defence agreed a sentence in the three-to-four-year range is appropriate.
“It is an unusual case,” Crown prosecutor Nick Barber told NanaimoNewsNOW. “The victims, who are also the parents of the accused, are very supportive of the accused.”
Barber said Rivington’s sentence would likely include credit for time already served in custody, which would knock about 17 months off a potential jail sentence. Rivington remains in custody at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria.
Justice Brian Harvey is expected to issue Rivington’s punishment on April 18.