News / Canada

Toronto senior on trial for murder says spirit told him to beat 2 women

Crown prosecutors allege the man used his cane to attack the women in their residence beds.

Peter Brooks (right) has been charged in the slaying of fellow nursing home resident Joycelyn Dickson, 72, (left).


Peter Brooks (right) has been charged in the slaying of fellow nursing home resident Joycelyn Dickson, 72, (left).

TORONTO — A Toronto senior on trial for murder told a court on Tuesday that a spirit in a dream told him to "beat the crap" out of two fellow residents at a long-term care home, insisting he hadn't actually intended to harm anyone.

Peter Brooks, now 76, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of 72-year-old Jocelyn Dickson and the attempted murder of 91-year-old Lourdes Missier.

Crown prosecutors have told jurors that late one night in March 2013, Brooks used his cane to attack Dickson and Missier in their beds at the Wexford Residence in Toronto's east end.

Taking the witness stand in his own defence, Brooks' testimony was contradictory at times, but he said repeatedly that he had acted on the bidding of a dream.

"The spirit told me to go and beat the crap out of them," he said "I am an obedient old man. I did use my walking stick and I beat them up."

A Crown prosecutor, however, suggested Brooks was lying.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you didn't do what you did on March 13 because of a dream," said Donna Kellway. "I'm going to suggest to you that you did what you did for revenge."

When asked to explain his relationship with Dickson and Missier, Brooks told the court the women were "annoying" and aggravated him constantly.

He said they were united in an alleged attempt to have him move out of the facility.

"The management, those people, put those two lady to aggravate me, 'get out of here, get out of here' they say, because they don't want me anymore," recounted Brooks, who came to Canada from Jamaica decades ago. "I was aggravated night and day."

On the day the two women were attacked, Brooks had a meeting with a staff member at the facility, the court heard.

During that meeting, Brooks said he smelled incense burning, and alleged the substance left him "drugged up."

He told the jury he went to bed after the meeting, which was when he had what he referred to at one point as his "good dream."

When a Crown lawyer suggested there was no incense and that Brooks was in a completely sober state, going to dinner that night and then later attending a "pub night" at the facility, Brooks disagreed strongly.

"He drugged me up," Brooks said of the staff member he met with. "Maybe the incense was burning, screw up my brain."

The jury has heard that Brooks allegedly attacked Missier first, swinging his cane at the head of the woman who was awake at the time and raised her hands to protect herself. She was left with fractured fingers, bruises and lacerations on her face, the Crown has said.

While staff were responding to what had happened to Missier, Brooks quietly made his way to another floor, where Dickson, a woman who was paralysed on one side of her body, was asleep in her bad, the Crown said.

Using his cane once more, Brooks delivered at least seven blows to Dickson's head causing "massive'' injuries that led to the woman's death, the Crown has said.

When pressed by his defence lawyer on how much he remembered of the attacks, Brooks said he "kind of remembered" hitting Missier, recalled a staff member running in and remembered telling that staff member to "get out of my way."

Brooks said he didn't remember going to Dickson's room, but had heard accounts of his actions detailed in court.

"I use my stick and beat them up and satisfy my pride," Brooks told the court. "Not intentionally did I want to hurt somebody. I never hurt a fly in my life."

Crown prosecutors have told the jury that "bad relationships and bad feelings" existed between Brooks and certain other residents at the long-term care home before the night of the deadly attack.

The trial has also heard from a psychiatrist, who assessed Brooks a year before the attack and found the senior represented a "chronic risk" to the home's frail residents.

Dr. Stephen Barsky told the trial that he examined Brooks in April 2012 after receiving reports of three incidents of aggression by the man against other residents at the home and found the man somewhat irritable, sarcastic and not fully co-operative.

Barsky said he had concerns about Brooks' level of judgement and felt the senior would be better off in a psychiatric group home where there might not be other frail elderly people he could prey on.

He noted, however, that Brooks was able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong and could understand the nature and quality of his actions.

More on