Scott Jones says it was easy to forgive the man who left him for dead on a downtown street last October, but he is having a difficult time determining whether justice was done.
The 28-year-old stabbing victim read his victim impact statement in Pictou Supreme Court Thursday during the sentencing of 20-year-old Shane Edward Matheson.
“Shane, nothing can justify what you have done, but I forgive you for what you have done,” said Jones.
Jones said he suffers from chronic pain, ongoing infections, depression and anxiety as a result of the stabbing. He said he is limited in his ability to enjoy many of the things in life he was passionate about, including his music, nature and exercise.
“I struggle with my emotions and the public’s perception of my disability,” he said. “This attack has shaken me to the core.”
Matheson pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder in relation to the October 2013 attack. He was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison and must pay more than $11,000 in restitution to cover the bills incurred during Jones’ rehabilitation. Justice Nick Scaravelli gave Matheson credit for time served, leaving nine years to be served behind bars.
Matheson also took the opportunity to address Jones, saying he was sorry for what happened that night.
“Mr. Jones, I am sorry I put you in that chair,” he said. “I didn’t know you and I don’t know why I did it. I apologize to your family and friends for putting you through this.”
After the sentencing, Jones said he was grateful to hear that Matheson was remorseful for his actions.
“It gave me a lot of relief,” he said. “In terms of the sentence, nothing is going to bring back my ability to walk so the idea of justice confuses me. Whether he got 25 years or seven years, it’s not going to bring back justice.”
Crown Attorney Jody McNeill said he was pleased Scaravelli took the Crown’s recommendation of 10 years into account. He said many the sentence addresses many factors, including the brutality of the crime, the nature of the offence and Matheson’s age.
“The real story today that impressed me was the courage and inner strength of Scott Jones,” said McNeill. “I am really impressed with the manner he approached this.”
Jones, who is gay, said in earlier interviews that Matheson’s attack was motivated by homophobia, but McNeill said there wasn’t evidence to support that allegation.
However, Jones said Thursday that he still feels the stabbing was a hate crime.
“My encounter with Shane…leads me to believe it was hate crime,” he said.
McNeill read an agreed statement of facts in court stating that Jones was out with friends on Oct. 12, 2013 and left a downtown New Glasgow business around 2:25 a.m.
Matheson left the same business at the same time and and walked towards the Roseland Cabaret.
Jones remembers being approached by a tall, red-haired man and then falling to the ground and not being able to feel his legs.
Police found Jones lying on the sidewalk with two stab wounds in his back, one of which severed his spinal cord, and two slashes on his throat.
Jones told the police he thought he remembered seeing the red-haired stranger earlier in the evening.
A friend of Matheson’s who was with him at the time of the incident said Jones and Matheson were shouting to each other from a distance and then Matheson ran towards Jones and made stabbing motions.
Video footage shows two men running away from the scene and two knives were located in some bushes in downtown New Glasgow.
McNeill said Matheson texted his girlfriend shortly after stabbing and said “something really bad has happened”.
“I really hurt someone,” he told her. “I stabbed someone and tried to slit his throat.”
He sent a similar text to his sister that said, “I ran up and sliced this guy’s throat and tried to stab him.”
Defence lawyer Stephen Robertson said he has known Matheson since the age of 12, when Robertson represented him in youth court.
He said his client has had a difficult childhood that involved being placed in custody of child services at the age of two.
He’s also been exposed to domestic abuse and suffers from mental health issues.
He said Matheson is truly remorseful for his actions.
“If he had been sober and not taken the pills, he would have realized what he was doing and probably would have passed Mr. Jones by,” he said.
In rendering his sentence, Scaravelli said he considered the fact that Matheson is remorseful and open to rehabilitation, but he said crime has had a devastating impact on the victim.
“I recognize you had a troubled upbringing and your experience in prison will not be pleasant,” said Scaravelli to Matheson. “You can lean on your past and choose to do nothing or accept the services in prison and become a member of society.”
The justice said he was specifically requesting that Matheson attend mental health and addiction services at the earliest opportunity during his incarceration.