‘Extreme’ drunkenness led ‘gentle’ Surrey man to kill: Judge

William Engebretsen would never have stabbed his spouse's son had he been sober, Justice Robin Baird says in sentencing him to jail.

A “colossal” intake of alcohol was to blame for an otherwise “gentle, law-abiding” Surrey man fatally stabbing his spouse’s son nearly three years ago, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

William Engebretsen, 56, was sentenced in the summer to four years jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the November 2012 death of 33-year-old Jeremy McLellan.

Justice Robin Baird’s oral reasons for sentence from July 8 were posted online this week, detailing what happened the night McLellan died.

According to court documents, it was Grey Cup Sunday – Nov. 25, 2012 – and McLellan had dropped by the home of Engebretsen and his common-law partner of 20 years. McLellan was the son of Engebretsen’s longtime spouse. Engebretsen had known him since he was 10.

McLellan and his mom were watching TV in the apartment when Engebretsen emerged from the bedroom, where he had been drinking most the day and napping. He told the two he wanted to watch the Grey Cup when one of them answered “if you ask nicely, maybe we’ll do it.” Engebretsen went to the kitchen to make a frozen pizza.

Without warning, Engebretsen then went to his bedroom and picked up an “enormous” knife he’d bought at a rummage sale, went back into the living room and stabbed McLellan once in the heart. He died about an hour later.

Justice Baird said he had no insight into what was going through Engebretsen’s head or what motivated him, but that the “mystery is compounded” by numerous letters from the killer’s family, friends and employers saying he is a gentle, peace-loving man with no history of violence.

Baird did, however, refer to an acrimonious relationship with McLellan that sometimes caused a rift between Engebretsen and his spouse. He did not want McLellan around but his mother did.

That ongoing conflict, fuelled by “extreme” drunkenness, caused McLellan’s mom to lose not only her son that night, but her best friend and marriage.

Engebretsen’s blood alcohol level was 292 mg per 100 ml of blood. A person with 80 mg per 100 ml would be considered too impaired to drive in B.C. His lawyer said a significant portion of the population would have died from such extreme alcohol over-consumption.

Engebretsen has not had a drink since the stabbing.

Justice Baird said it never would have occurred to Engebretsen to stab McLellan had he been sober.

“This is the pernicious thing about alcohol,” said Baird. “It can lead to catastrophe when it is abused. It can lead an otherwise gentle, law-abiding person like you to commit unspeakable acts of violence.

“I have to emphasize that what you did was appalling. There is no other way of looking at it.”

With credit for time already spent in custody, Engebretsen has three years, seven months left of his sentence. Baird said he expected he’d be a model prisoner and likely serve two-thirds of that.


Just Posted

Surrey wants BNSF to slow Crescent trains

Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Rail-safety forum planned for White Rock this Friday

Event to include municipal, federal, provincial governments

White Rock open house to discuss city’s aquifer protection plan

Examination of potential hazards includes increased population, climate change

‘Connecting Threads’ and more in Surrey Art Gallery’s fall shows

Free admission at opening reception and panel discussion Sunday afternoon

SFU unveils new lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Combination of MRI, MEG allows for ‘best possible windows’ intro brain function

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by B.C. animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for shelter and local municipal election

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

Most Read