Man accused of trying to kill his mother pleads to assault in a Kelowna, B.C., court

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KELOWNA, B.C. — An attempted murder trial came to an abrupt end Tuesday when a man from West Kelowna, B.C., pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother.

Kevin Barrett admitted to savagely beating and choking Eleanor Holmes before throwing her down a forest ravine.

An agreed statement of facts presented in court by Crown attorney Patricia O'Neil says Barrett's 79-year-old mother decided to "play dead," believing that would spare her further assault.

Holmes had been expected to testify Tuesday when the Crown and defence attorneys told the judge the 59-year-old Barrett had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.

During the sentencing portion of the trial, the court heard Barrett has bipolar disorder, frequently goes off his medication and his mental-health problems are exacerbated by a history of alcohol use.

The court heard that Barrett was often verbally abusive toward his mother, although she allowed him to live with her in a trailer park after the rest of the family turned their backs on him.

“She loved him and she did not want him to be homeless," O’Neil said.

On April 29, 2019, Barrett was in a loving mood, the court heard.

"Mr. Barrett kissed Mrs. Holmes and told her she was the best mom a man his age could ever have,” O'Neil said.

But when Barrett asked for his mother to drive him somewhere and she said no, he flew into a violent rage, the court heard.

Holmes told investigators it was as if her son had turned into “Satan himself,” O'Neil said.

Barrett savagely beat his mother, using both his fists and a blunt object to hit her in the face, head, neck, stomach, and legs. He yanked out much of her hair, hit her so hard her dentures were dislodged, bit her, and choked her with a seatbelt, the court heard.

"Mrs. Holmes believed Mr. Barrett was going to kill her," O'Neil said.

Barrett dragged his mother out of the vehicle and tossed her down a 100-metre embankment towards a creek. He then used her bank card to buy liquor and ice cream before returning to her trail, the court heard.

Despite her serious injuries, Holmes was able to climb the embankment and was found, barefoot, bloodied and cold, by a West Kelowna couple, the agreed statement says.

Barrett was quickly arrested at the trailer and has been in custody for almost two years.

O'Neil said Holmes told investigators last year that she loved her son and forgave him for what he had done to her.

“That speaks to the depth of her compassion as well as the profoundness of a mother's attachment to her child,” O’Neil said.

However, in a brief victim impact statement written by Holmes earlier this week and read into the court record on Tuesday, Holmes said: “I’m terrified of Kevin. I’m old and have a bad heart. I do not want Kevin back here.”

(Kelowna Daily Courier)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021.

Ron Seymour, Kelowna Daily Courier, The Canadian Press