Man who slashed Chilliwack homeless man’s face with utility knife to be sentenced Tuesday

Robert Giesbrecht, 35, has already been in custody nearly two years since downtown incident

A 35-year-old man who sliced a homeless man’s face with a utility knife downtown Chilliwack two years ago could be facing a sentence of nearly five years in jail.

The incident occurred on March 3, 2018 when Robert Matthew Giesbrecht pulled up to a group of people camped on the street in front of Auld Phillips on Yale Road. He asked a woman for crack and when she told him to get lost, he became angry.

He drove away, but then came back and, brandishing a large utility knife, he came at the group. A fight ensured that included a male trying to fend Giesbrecht off with a skateboard.

Giesbrecht sliced a man from the middle of his left cheek to the right cheek. The slash caused considerable bleeding but was deemed superficial.

“He spent four or five days in hospital,” Crown counsel John Lester told the court at a sentencing hearing Feb. 4, 2020. “He does have a permanent scar from this slash.”

Giesbrecht was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Lester said that a sentence in the range of five years was appropriate for the vicious attack after the altercation involving drugs.

But Giesbrecht’s lawyer Stephen Price asked for him to be released on time served. Giesbrecht has been in custody since the incident on March 3, 2018 despite being granted bail on a $2,500 surety three days later.

He never perfected bail and he remained in custody.

Because he had been at Surrey Pretrial for 697 days as of the hearing Feb. 4, he will be given credit for 1,046 days or nearly three years. Lester said because of that, he was seeking a provincial sentence of two years less a day followed by three years probation to allow for supervision.

Probation is not available for federal sentences of two years or more.

Lester pointed to a history of violence from Giesbrecht, but he downplayed possible concerns about psychiatric disorders. Giesbrecht had been deemed not-criminally responsible in a previous case, but Lester argued that the current case involved behavioural issues rather than mental health ones.

Lester did point to the possibility of some developmental issues and that he had a “tough upbringing” in an orphanage in Haiti. He was born in Haiti on Aug. 4, 1984 and adopted by a family in Abbotsford when he was eight or nine.

At one point he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and spent time at Colony Farm, but he was long ago discharged, and does not exhibit signs of mental illness.

Judge Ormiston is set to hand down her judgment on Feb. 11.

• RELATED: Two dead following stabbing in downtown Chilliwack in 2017

• RELATED: Targeted stabbing at notorious Chilliwack apartment complex

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: British Columbia’s renters and landlords needed help yesterday

Too little too late from both federal and provincial governments

COVID-19: Fraser Valley crafters are busy sewing cotton masks for health-care workers and others

One Chilliwack woman has made 125 masks so far, and is still going strong

Chilliwack teen donating stem cells for brother’s second fight with cancer

Chilliwack’s Fleming family appealing to the public to look into stem cell donation

Chilliwack couple ‘amazed’ by the Community Cares initiative

CCFC project Community Cares has ‘neighbours in need’ matched with volunteer ‘helper neighbours’

Stairs used for exercise in Chilliwack designated one-way only

The Jinkerson stairs were so crowded over the weekend that city officials had to do something

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read