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Man 'high on drugs' at time of robbery
It took four healthy-sized Langley RCMP officers and the eventual deployment of a Taser gun to subdue a six-foot, four-inch, 250-pound home invasion suspect, according to testimony at the B.C. Supreme Court trial of Langley’s Matthew Sherwin.
Sherwin is facing criminal charges of aggravated assault, assault with intent to resist arrest, break and enter and possession of stolen property in relation to the violent robbery at a man’s Fort Langley home in April 2010.
The 52-year-old victim of the home invasion, Steven Gary Marsh, died nearly a month after the brutal beating. Sherwin was not charged in connection with his death.
With short cropped brown hair and goatee, Sherwin, 25, sat in the prison’s box wearing prison-appointed clothing of a large orange sweater and red pants. He took extensive notes at his trial on Thursday in New Westminster.
The trial by judge alone was expected to take two days.
It was learned in court that a neighbour called police when she saw what she thought were two suspicious-looking characters looking around the home.
Langley RCMP officers arrived less than 10 minutes later to the sounds of screaming coming from inside the home. On Thursday, two officers testified they also heard things being thrown about inside Marsh’s home.
The officers who arrived set up a perimeter around the house. Langley RCMP Const. Terry Nikopoulos testified that he was called to the Fort Langley address for a “robbery in progress.”
When he walked to the home, which was set back from the road and very dark, he heard yelling from his fellow police officer Const. Chad Groman saying “This is the police. Get down on the ground.”
Groman testified that he could see a person in the victim’s home and could hear what sounded like drawers being thrown about. He testified that he saw Sherwin come out of the house carrying a blue bat.
The officer yelled, ‘stop police, get on the ground’ but Sherwin looked blankly at him and was making ‘gargling noises.’ He did drop the bat.
His gun was drawn, as was that of Const. Christa Ballard.
Sherwin continued to yell “incoherently” when he pulled something out of his hoodie or pant pocket and tossed it towards Gorman.
The item, later found to be a sheathed hunting knife, hit the barrel of Gorman’s gun and landed beside him.
Then Sherwin ran away from them, Gorman testifed.
“I saw someone running towards me. I grabbed onto him and tried to tackle him but he is much larger than myself,” testified Nikopoulos .
“It took all four officers and he was kicking violently and wouldn’t put his hands behind his back.”
Police testified that he was Tasered once or twice, and they were able to handcuff him. Nikopolous testified that later back at the detachment, he recognized the suspect as Sherwin, a known criminal in Langley whom he had dealings with in the past.
Sherwin has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions of assaulting a police officer a year after this alleged crime.
Defense lawyer Paul McMurray asked each officer if they felt Sherwin was high on drugs at the time and in an excited delirium brought on by drugs.
All the officers agreed. Nikopoulos said he even exhibited super human strength, managing to lift all four officers off the ground at one point.
Nikopolous, who was in charge of collecting evidence that day, said he saw the victim walk out of his house covered in blood.
Police testified that they found tubing in the trunk of Sherwin’s car, which was parked outside Marsh’s home. The tubing is used to smoke crack or crystal meth, the officer testified.
Officers who drove Sherwin back to the Langley detachment after the robbery said he went from being hostile to crying. Each of the four officers’ reports from the incident indicate Sherwin seemed high on drugs.
Marsh had just moved into the Fort Langley home, where he lived alone.
It was on April 6, 2010, he was awakened to his front door being kicked in around 4 a.m. According to police, when he emerged from his bedroom, he was attacked with a baseball bat.
His injuries were so severe that he was hospitalized twice.