‘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 Community Leader Awards winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Heights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

Surrey building that has gathered dust for 20 years is for sale again, with bids sought

Potential sale of the long-vacant 104 Avenue Centre is good news, Surrey Board of Trade CEO says

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read