Surrey man found guilty of violent attack on First Nations Elder

Kenneth Nolan Kirton assaulted and robbed 74-year-old woman in Vancouver last year.

Kenneth Nolan Kirton

A Surrey man has been convicted in a violent attack on a senior in her Vancouver home last year.

Kenneth Nolan Kirton entered Pearl Cecil’s apartment in the early morning hours of March 4, 2012. She had known him for about 10 years because one of her daughters had a relationship with him.

According to court documents, Cecil, 74, testified that she woke up to hear banging on a patio door and let Kirton in. She said he asked to stay the night and she prepared a makeshift bed on the floor in the room where she was sleeping on a cot.

Cecil, a First Nations Elder, said it was quiet for awhile, when suddenly Kirton jumped on her stomach and attacked her with what she thought was a screwdriver, stabbing her in the face and chest. She said she was bitten near her thumb and then rolled onto her stomach, when the accused pushed her face into the pillow. She was terrified she would be smothered to death, she told the court. The pair fell off the cot, Cecil said, and eventually Kirton left and she went for help.

Kirton fled after the attack and the Vancouver Police Department released a photo of him to the media. He turned himself in shortly after.

He originally faced four charges – attempted murder, robbery, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon – but was convicted only of two: aggravated assault and robbery.

An Oct. 25 decision by Judge Gregory Rideout found the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kirton had the specific intent to murder Cecil. Rideout also said that although it was likely the senior was attacked with a screwdriver, it was not located, nor were her injuries able to point to forensic evidence a screwdriver was used.

The judge did, however, say it was clear Kirton had stolen Cecil’s purse in order to buy drugs and added that there was “no question” that she was subjected to an aggravated assault and that Kirton was the person who attacked her.

“The ferocity of the assault, the extent of the injuries, the emotional trauma, and the continuing pain and suffering experienced by Pearl, have all had a profound impact on her,” said Rideout.

Kirton’s next court date is Nov. 13.


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