Warren Walsh told Surrey Provincial Court Tuesday afternoon (March 2) that he was sleeping on the grass behind a bus stop near Southmere Crescent and 18 Avenue on the morning of Aug. 16, 2019 when he awoke to the sound of a scream.
Walsh, who was homeless at the time, told the court he sat up and saw three people in the parking lot across the street. One of the individuals, he said, was holding a man, while another appeared to be delivering uppercut punches. The scuffle, Walsh said, was over in a matter of seconds before two of the individuals ran away, and the third fell to the ground.
As the two were fleeing the area, they came within earshot of Walsh, he said, when he heard one say to the other: “Did you actually stab him for that?”
Walsh, who appeared in court virtually from his home, was the final Crown witness called to the stand in the trial of two youths accused of killing South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo. The identities of the two accused are protected under a publication ban due to their age – they were 15 and 16 years old at the time. Both have entered not-guilty pleas to aggravated assault and second-degree murder charges. The aggravated assault charges were laid in connection with an attack that occurred just hours before Prestbakmo died and left a White Rock senior with significant injuries.
A 2019 autopsy report stated that Prestbakmo had been stabbed 42 times.
After the pair left the area, Walsh said he walked over to the victim, who was lying in a commercial parking lot at the southwest corner of 152 Street and 18 Avenue. The victim, Walsh said, yelled “Help me, help me, I’ve been stabbed.”
During cross-examination, defence counsel Michael Klein questioned Walsh on statements he made to police immediately following the incident, comparing them to his current testimony.
Defence focused on two statements Walsh gave police – one on the morning of the crime and the other a few days later.
Police asked Walsh on the morning of the incident if he’d witnessed someone get stabbed, to which he responded in the negative, Klein said, reading from a police statement.
However, in his testimony, Walsh said he witnessed about 10 to 15 seconds of the altercation.
“So when you’re asked whether or not you saw someone get stabbed, you said no because that means you did, right?” Klein asked Walsh.
“No. The only thing I can think of is from the trauma that I was having at the time, having witnessed this. It’s logical that the guy was stabbed, he died from it. So of course I did see someone get stabbed,” Walsh responded.
“Well maybe you’re just filling in the details,” Klein said.
Walsh first mentioned witnessing the “scuffle” in a third statement he provided to Crown and police 16 months after the incident.
Defence also drew attention to comments Walsh made to police about overhearing one suspect ask the other: “Did you actually stab him for that?”
In his first statement to police on the morning of the crime, Walsh was asked which of the suspects asked the question. He told police at the time that he didn’t see their faces.
“I’m suggesting that you do not know which one said that,” Klein said.
Walsh, who testified that it was the smaller suspect who asked the question of the larger suspect, said he played the scene in his mind a thousand times, and he put it in a “logical format so it makes coherent sense.”
“So what you’ve done, in effect, is superimpose your own structure on what you believe you saw, is that right?” Klein asked Walsh.
“No, it’s a logical sequence. I haven’t added or adjusted anything. It’s still the same as what it was. It’s just that I’m realizing more and more (of) what I saw,” Walsh said.
Klein then focused on Walsh’s mental health history, asking him about a bipolar disorder diagnosis and the medication he’s prescribed.
“Did you suffer from any psychotic delusions?” Klein asked.
“No,” Walsh responded.
The matter is to return to Surrey Provincial Court for closing statements on March 8.