EDMONTON — An Edmonton man is going to jail for trying to kill his “best friend” in a bizarre case that a judge compared to the “dark plot” of an Elizabethan-era play.
Michael Lee Hancock, 23, was handed a seven-year prison term Wednesday in provincial court after earlier pleading guilty to attempted murder.
Court heard Hancock had agreed to help Derek Thibert-Ayers commit suicide because a woman had snubbed him and the pair went to a river valley embankment where Hancock stabbed his pal in the chest.
But then Thibert-Ayers told Hancock he didn’t want to die and asked him to call 911.
Hancock, fearing he would be blamed, pretended to make the call, then stabbed his friend in the neck.
Thibert-Ayers fought back, resulting in Hancock cutting himself on the hand, and then Hancock pushed his pal — who was suffering a perforated lung and a lacerated jugular vein — down the embankment before fleeing.
Thibert-Ayers climbed the embankment and staggered to a nearby residence where a retired city police officer helped him until an ambulance arrived.
Court heard Hancock left his BlackBerry and the knife at the scene and had Thibert-Ayers’ wallet, containing $220, in his possession at the time he was arrested.
Less than an hour after the May 30 stabbing, Hancock, on the advice of his father, called 911 and said he had “murdered someone” and provided details of the attack.
Thibert-Ayers, who has recovered, has a “very vague” memory of the incident.
“The facts in this case are most unusual,” said Judge Peter Caffaro, adding he read the agreed statement of facts “with some disbelief.”
The judge then said the case reminded him of the “dark plot” of an English play from Shakespeare’s era.
Caffaro said Hancock’s “in for a penny, in for a pound” rationale was an “extremely aggravating” factor.
“After his so-called friend changed his mind and wanted to live after all, Mr. Hancock proceeded to attempt to finish the job,” said Caffaro.
However, the judge noted his early guilty plea, his youth, his co-operation, lack of a criminal record and “remorse in the extreme” before ruling on a seven-year sentence.
He then reduced it by 19 months for the 9 1/2 months Hancock spent in pre-trial custody.
According to the agreed facts, Thibert-Ayers had become infatuated with a woman, despite having a pregnant common-law wife with whom he had a young daughter.
The woman rebuffed him, but began dating Hancock. Two weeks before the stabbing, Hancock felt he had betrayed Thibert-Ayers and told him about the relationship.
Thibert-Ayers got quite upset and became depressed, which apparently led to the supposed suicide pact.
In a statement to police, Hancock spoke of coming to the realization that Thibert-Ayers never really intended to kill himself, but simply wanted to pay him back for the betrayal by having him implicated for assaulting him.