The man who crashed a stolen truck and fled the scene by canoe in View Royal was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder. (Black Press Media file photo)

Man who stole truck and canoe in View Royal believed he was fleeing zombies, court finds

Judge finds man not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder for 2019 thefts

The man behind a canoe and truck theft on the West Shore last year has been found not criminally responsible for his actions.

On Jan. 31, 2019, Brendan Marney was walking precariously across the railing of an overpass near Burnside Road and Island Highway when driver Nancy Sermons saw him and pulled over her Ford 150 truck. Sermons dialed 911 and when she hung up, herself and another passerby approached Marney and coaxed him down from the railing.

Court documents reveal how the two witnesses tried to keep the very agitated Marney present until police or ambulance arrived. Marney asked Sermons for a ride to the University of Victoria, but when Sermons told him that she had called 911, he bolted, running to Sermon’s truck, stealing it and driving it in the direction of the Helmcken Road overpass ramp. Marney careened the truck over several medians and then struck a street light with so much force the pole bent. He fled on foot down an embankment.

When police arrived, they located Marney in the Portage Inlet, paddling a canoe in circles. RCMP coaxed him to shore.

Marney now faces three counts of canoe theft, theft of a motor vehicle and operation of a motor vehicle in a manner dangerous to the public.

READ ALSO: Police arrest man who allegedly crashed truck, stole canoe in West Shore

He pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, claiming that in the days leading up to the incident, he achieved a “heightened awareness concerning the true state of reality” in which he realized that the entire world was fake and a trap that made everything appear real even though it wasn’t.

Marney began to consider all other people zombies and that he had to bring one of the zombies “to his side” to awaken their power. He chose one of his UVic instructors for this mission and had begun walking from his home on the West Shore to the university when he encountered Sermons.

“He felt it was part of that trap to keep him inside the system. He worried that the captors might become aware of his critical insight into the nature of reality,” court documents read.

But the Crown likened Marney’s evidence to the basic plot of the Matrix movie series.

The Crown asked the court to disbelieve Marney’s evidence, but a staff psychiatrist with Island Health reported his belief that Marney was suffering a severe psychotic episode on the day he stole the truck and canoe. The psychiatrist found the man’s actions were “consistent with what [he] thought were reasonably necessary to save his own life.”

The Crown also argued that even if the court believed Marney, it should consider that his cannabis smoking in the days leading up to Jan. 31 was the likely cause of his mental state, not a mental disorder as suggested by the not criminally responsible plea.

But in her decision, Judge Lisa Mrozinski disagreed, writing that on Jan. 31, Marney’s mind was governed by his psychoses, which caused him to perceive the real word as false and malicious.

Mrozinski also pointed to evidence from the psychiatrist, who said cannabis use may have been an exacerbating factor in Marney’s underlying mental health issues, but was not the root cause of his psychosis.

Mrozinski referred the case to the B.C. review board, an independent tribunal that makes orders for accused people found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorders.

READ ALSO: Chaos on the West Shore: RCMP respond to canoe theft, suspicious wires and more


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Colwoodmental healthWest Shore

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

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read