Mentally ill man faces charges after alleged attack on bishop

| October 27, 2010

A mentally ill man, accused of stabbing a Catholic bishop in the throat with a pen, gripped his head in his hands, seemingly in torment, as he was led into the courtroom in Kamloops Provincial Court on Monday.

His mother wept as she sat in the front row of the public gallery. She was accompanied by several people, including the father of the accused, well-known Kamloops musician Rodney Bandura.

John Bandura, 30, is charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and mischief. Throughout his 20-minute court appearance, the accused hunched in the prisoner's dock, never loosening his hands from a viselike grip on his short black hair.

Prosecutor Stephen Lawhead asked Judge Sheri Donegan to order a 30-day in-custody fitness assessment. Defence lawyer Michelle Stanford did not oppose the application.

Lawhead told the court Bandura had been pepper sprayed at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre earlier in the morning to bring him under control.

"This is a case that cries out for an assessment," he said.

The judge agreed, ordering the man remanded in custody for a 30-day psychiatric assessment. His next court appearance is Nov. 25.

Bandura is charged in the vicious attack Friday night on David Monroe, 69, bishop of the Kamloops Catholic diocese. The priest is recovering in hospital, although the Crown did not have a recent update on his condition.

Police notes from a statement provided by Bandura after his arrest indicate that he stabbed the priest in the throat with a pen and then beat him severely with various objects in the room where the incident occurred.

"[Monroe] said he couldn't help me so I stabbed him in the throat and I drank it because I needed a pick-me-up."

"I was listening to voices in my head," Lawhead read from the police statement. "I wasn't quite sure but the voices were telling me to release my energy."

Lawhead said Bandura, who was living in Vancouver, had been brought to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops by family members concerned about a deterioration of his mental health.

He was admitted to the psychiatric unit on a voluntary basis late Friday afternoon. However, staff reported he became restless in the evening and broke through a glass door, severely cutting himself. The prosecutor said breaking the door was unnecessary because he was free to leave at any time.

He walked a block to Sacred Heart Cathedral, where preparations for a wedding were underway. He asked for a priest and was referred to the rectory.

There was no information on how he got inside the rectory, but he met with Monroe and shortly afterwards the attack occurred.

Lawhead said Bandura, still bleeding from his own injuries, fled to the South Thompson River and swam across it to a trailer park on the other side where his father lives.

He was found hiding in a shed on his father's property.

The man is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is known to have self-medicated with LSD. He is also on mood stabilizers.

Lawhead said the family of the accused indicated that he has acted out in the past, including tearing up rooms in their homes.

"He once jumped off a bridge, not to commit suicide, but to see what it felt like," the prosecutor told the court. Another time he drove down the wrong side of the highway, claiming he was St. John the Baptist.

Lawhead said Bandura has a strong fascination with Christianity, church and water.

Four deputy sheriffs stood guard over Bandura during the hearing.

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