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

The salmon run has also begun at Goldstream Provincial Park for the 2020 season. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Salmon returning to Sooke River

Charters Salmon Interpretive Centre closed but trails remain open

The clearing of the land for the new Vancouver Island Regional Library in Sooke began Thursday. The $7.5-million building on Wadams Way between Anna Marie and Townsend roads will include more than 14,400 square feet of space, children’s area fireplace lounge, laptop bar and community space. The library is expected to open in spring 2022. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Ground-breaking for the new Sooke library

New Sooke library expected be completed by spring 2020

Sooke Elementary kindergarteners Zoe Sperrer (left), Christel Loutet, Chase MacKay and Gr. 5 Jace Ferris are helping to plant a native plant garden on their school property. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke Elementary plants native plant garden with help from community

Sooke Elementary teachers, students expand backyard garden

Saanich police are warning residents that rutting season has begun and deer may get their antlers tangled in items left in yards. (Saanich Police Department/Twitter)
Deer with items tangled in antlers spotted in Saanich as rutting season begins

Police, B.C. Conservation Service warn of possibly aggressive bucks through fall

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Most Read