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Man charged with attempted murder of Saint John police officer to undergo psychiatric assessment | CBC News

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A man who is now facing 10 charges, including attempted murder, in connection with the stabbing of a Saint John police officer at the Canadian Tire on the west side last month, will undergo a psychiatric assessment.

Corey James Clarke, 35, is being sent to the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton to determine his fitness to stand trial.

Defence lawyer David Lutz requested a 30-day assessment during an appearance in Saint John provincial court Wednesday afternoon.

He told the court he hasn’t been able to communicate effectively with Clarke, or to get clear instructions from him.

“So that’s where I am. I’m not prepared to continue to represent him if he has not had a real assessment because I think it would be negligent to do so,” Lutz said, as Clarke listened to the proceedings via video conference from the jail and his mother cried quietly in the courtroom.

A man with a grey mustache wearing a black fedora, green trench coat and a red and black bow tie, carrying a black briefcase.
Veteran defence lawyer David Lutz is representing Clarke. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Lutz suggested Clarke should also get an assessment for criminal responsibility while he’s at the psychiatric hospital, “rather than waste anybody’s time” having to get a separate assessment later.

But Judge Claude Haché said that “may be premature.”

“We should deal with fitness first,” he said. “Fitness is an issue for the court, right? NCR [not criminally responsible] then becomes part of the defence plan of whether or not it is raised in the defence.”

Although the court used to order the two types of assessments be done at the same time, that practice has stopped, “because NCR has to go through a more thorough review of, you know, the behaviour and comportment at the time of the alleged incidents,” Haché said.

Two Saint John police vehicles parked facing each other in front of the Saint John Law Courts building.
Clarke appeared in court via video conference from the jail Wednesday and is scheduled to return on April 5. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Crown prosecutor Chris Titus said he had no objection to Lutz’s request for a fitness assessment. He said five-day, in-jail assessments are normally conducted, but noted there is a provision that allows for up to a 30-day assessment if the accused and prosecutor agree.

“In the interest of justice, I’m not standing in the way of that. We’d better get to the bottom of that and skip the five-day and go to the 30-day assessment, as requested,” Titus said.

“I don’t see any other real options, frankly.”

3 new charges

The Crown laid three more charges against Clarke Wednesday, including an assault and two counts of assault with a knife on Feb. 21.

Lutz requested they be adjourned without election or plea, like Clarke’s seven other charges.

Clarke was previously charged with the attempted murder and aggravated assault of Saint John Police Force Const. Jonathan Grenier at the Canadian Tire at 885 Fairville Blvd., on Feb. 21. Grenier is recovering from non-life-threatening injuries.

Clarke is also charged with assaulting Const. Ryan Woodman with a knife, assaulting a woman with a knife, possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, mischief under $5,000 for wilfully damaging glass display cases, and resisting two officers in the execution of their duty that night.

The exterior of a Canadian Tire store, with several vehicles in the parking lot.
A number of people were inside the store at the time of the incident, police have said. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Police responded to reports of a man armed with a knife threatening staff and causing damage inside the store shortly after 8 p.m., Staff Sgt. Sean Rocca said after the incident.

There were a number of people inside the store, including two officers, when Grenier was allegedly stabbed with a knife upon entering to help, Rocca said. No other details have been released.

Clarke is also facing three charges dating back to 2017-18, in the Kingston area. He is accused of assaulting and threatening a man and then failing to attend court.

Clarke remains in custody. He is scheduled to return to court on April 5, which is a bit shy of a full 30-day assessment, but Lutz was unavailable for the following two weeks.

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