Jeff Weber 'not criminally responsible' for hammer attack on Ottawa resident
Published Thursday, September 29, 2016 4:59PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:47PM EDT
The victim of a vicious hammer attack says he's shocked the man who permanently injured him won't go to jail. Jeffrey Weber was found not criminally responsible today, the fourth time for a violent crime he's committed.
The attack happened on a snowy day in December of 2014 near the corner of Bank and Somerset Street West. There was never a dispute that 32-year-old Jeffrey Weber was guilty of smashing the 55-year-old with a hammer that day. What was up for dispute was whether he understood what he was doing was wrong. Today, a judge said no.
55-year-old Nabute Ghebrehiwet lives every day with the emotional and physical scars of that random hammer attack.
“I have scar to my forehead,” said Ghebrehiwet outside the Ottawa courthouse today, “loss of sight, an injury to my ear.”
Ghebrehiwet was standing outside his Somerset Street apartment two years ago, having a smoke when, out of nowhere, Jeff Weber came at him, bringing a hammer crashing down on his head.
“I blacked out, from the first hit, I blacked out,” he recalls. Witnesses came to his aid, and testified later in court that Weber seemed emotionless, “spaced out.”
Surveillance cameras from a nearby store show Weber buying a hammer and large kitchen knife. Weber was arrested at his group home in Old Ottawa South. It was not his first encounter with police. Weber has been before the courts on three other occasions. 10 years ago, in 2006, for threatening a mother and daughter in Ottawa, then the following year, for trying to abduct a 10-year old-girl in Toronto. In 2011, Weber terrorized a young woman in Kamloops, B.C., forcing his way into her car and assaulting her.
In each case, he was found not criminally responsible. What is clear to the courts is that Weber is a very sick man, a diagnosed schizophrenic, who hears voices telling him to hurt people. He has claimed he was Adolph Hitler’s grandson and that aliens communicated with him. He was receiving treatment at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre where he improved enough to be sent to the group home on Grove Avenue in October of 2014. Two months later, he attacked Ghebrehiwet.
Justice Matthew Webber said it was clear through ample testimony that Weber was in the throes of a psychotic state, that the attack could not be explained through any other motive than an irrational and delusional thought process.
"The tragic facts of this case have made it clear that Weber is unpredictable and dangerous." the Judge told court, in finding Weber not criminally responsible for the hammer attack.
But he added "we need to take the utmost care to ensure that Weber doesn't harm another member of our community."
His last victim says there's only one way that's going to happen.
“Don't let him out,” says Ghebrehiwet, “Yeah, don't let him out.”
Weber has been in a secure facility at the Royal Ottawa since his arrest where he will now return awaiting an assessment by the Ontario Review Board.