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Son 'appeared intent on killing' during knife attack on father: witnesses

A young Blind River man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the March 2014 stabbing death of his 69-year-old father.

A young Blind River man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the March 2014 stabbing death of his 69-year-old father.

Ian Hammond's plea came after Superior Court Justice Alexander Kurke consented to a joint Crown and defence request that Hammond proceed to trial before a judge without a jury.

John Hammond died on March 15, 2014 after his 18-year-old son repeatedly stabbed him with a butcher knife, prosecutor David Kirk told the court in an agreed statement of facts.

On Wednesday, the judge, who will determine whether or not the accused is criminally responsible for his actions, will hear from a psychiatrist who conducted an assessment of Ian Hammond following his father's murder.

Ontario Provincial Police received four 911 calls, shortly after 6:30 p.m. on that Saturday evening, reporting a young man was stabbing an elderly man on Woodward Street in the town east of Sault Ste. Marie.

Before police arrived, the victim's ex-wife and Ian's mother Donna Hammond, who was on her way to her former husband's home, happened upon the scene as she drove along the street.

She saw her son stabbing John Hammond, jumped out of her vehicle yelling at him to stop and asking him "why, why," Kirk said.

Ian walked around his mother and continued to stab his father, telling her "it was me or him. I just couldn't take the abuse any more."

John Hammond managed to get into the vehicle, and his ex-wife and her boyfriend took him to the hospital.

On the way to the hospital, John told them: "I'm not going to make it. I'm dying," the assistant Crown attorney said.

When police arrived at the scene, officers found Ian, holding a large, bloody kitchen knife, standing on the sidewalk.

He had blood on his hands and his face.

He explained to them that "I had no choice. It was him or me. It was building up like a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces were coming together."

John Hammond was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m.

A post mortem determined Hammond, who had 14 stab and slash wounds to his body, died from a stab wound to his chest.

During an interview with police the following day, Ian indicated he had become increasingly paranoid and described his family plotting against him.

They were trying to gain power over him, to get him to go to Jamaica with his father where he feared he would be kept as a slave, the young man said.

He perceived everything his dad did that day was a threat to him, Kirk said.

As Ian was chopping lettuce for a salad, he saw his father open the knife drawer in the kitchen of their Woodward Street home and, believing the older man was going to kill him, he stabbed his father.

John reached for the telephone and his son cut the cord, then chased his father as he ran out of the house and continued to stab him.

Witnesses, who saw Ian attacking his father with the knife, described him as emotionless, staring straight ahead and "acting wierd."

One person said he "appeared intent on killing John," while another said "he appeared crazed and to be having fun .....smiling."

Kirk said the police investigation found no evidence that John Hammond physically or emotionally abused his son.

Donna Hammond told investigators Ian took his parents separation and divorce hard.

During his last semester of high school, he was experiencing anxiety, sleeping a lot and not eating.

He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and depression and given medications.

In September 2013, he went to Sudbury to attend Cambrian College, where he did well for the first couple of weeks.

He began to experience paranoia, believed his roommates were trying to kill him and started missing classes.

A doctor prescribed anti-depressants, but Ian stopped taking them after two weeks because he said they made him feel suicidal.

When his parents visited him they found he was acting very strange, barely talked and when he did slurred his words.

They felt he needed to come home and address his mental health issues, Kirk said.

But after he returned to Blind River, he wouldn't come out of his room and became increasingly paranoid and believed he was being poisoned.

He was having delusions that people at his father's home at Christmas were talking about him in code and hallucinations at night about someone putting a hand over his mouth.

The teen didn't want to go a trip to Jamaica with his father because he believed John was going to cut him up and put him a suitcase or he was going to be kept as a slave.

A doctor prescribed a drug for the paranoia, but Ian wouldn't take it after he read about the side effects.

In mid-February, he questioned why he had to take anti-psychotic medications.

Two weeks before he attacked his father, he had stopped taking the medication, Kirk told the court.

Previous SooToday coverage of this story:

Victim identified in Blind River murder

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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