PICTOU - 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 if 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 who is charged with his attempted murder.
"Shane, nothing can justify what you have done, but I forgive you for what you have done," he said.
Matheson lifted his head when Jones spoke his name and listened quietly as Jones gave him forgiveness. Jones said he suffers from chronic pain, ongoing infections, depression and anxiety as a result of the stabbing. He said he is limited now on how he enjoys 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 stabbing of Jones, who was a well-known Pictou County musician. He was sentenced to 10 years on the attempted murder charge and must pay more than $11,000 in restitution back to Jones, many of the bills he incurred during his rehabilitation and the need for assisted living devices. Justice Nick Scaravelli gave Matheson credit for time served so he has nine years left of his sentence.
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."
Jones said following the sentencing that 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."
However, he said, he was able to forgive Matheson because of the support he has received from family and friends which is something the accused never experienced since the court heard many times of his difficult childhood.
"It's been a journey surrounded by people that care and love me and who have been so supportive," he said. "When you have that love around you and you consider someone who hasn't had that love around them at all their whole life, it is easy to arrive at forgiveness. I don't think people are born that way, but I don't think they are born with the ability to try and kill someone. That happens throughout life. There is some good in Shane and I hope he has some rehabilitation and realizes to the full extent what he has done and leaves prison a better person."
Crown Attorney Jody McNeill said he was pleased Scaravelli took the Crown's recommendation of 10 years into account. He said many factors weighed into the sentence including the brutality of the crime, the nature of the offence and the age of Matheson as well as rehabilitation.
"The real story today that impressed me was the courage and inner strength of Scott Jones," he said. "I am really impressed with the mannerr he approached this."
Jones said in earlier interviews that Matheson attacked him out of hatred for him being gay, but McNeill said there wasn't evidence to support that allegation.
However, Jones said today that he was still feels that this was a hate crime despite what was read in court.
"Unless you were standing in my shoes, you might not understand it, but my encounter with Shane prior to running into him on the street and just how he was coming towards me that way, that leads me to believe it was hate crime. Whether it was an hour long motive or just came two minutes after seeing me on the street, I don't know. Again, that is my opinion and it might be wrong."
During a statement of facts read by McNeill, the court was told that Jones was out with friends on October 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 direction of the Roseland Cabaret.
He said 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 and he was quickly transported to hospital with two stab wounds in his mid back, one of which severed his spinal cord and resulted in paralysis, and he had 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 near J.R. Raheys in downtown New Glasgow. One of the knives resembled a kitchen knife.
McNeill said Matheson texted his girlfriend shortly after stabbing and said "something really bad has happened".
"I really hurt someone," he told her. "I 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 was 12 years old when he represented him in youth court. He said his client has had a difficult childhood that involved being placed in custody of child services as early as two years old and has been exposed to domestic abuse as well as having his own mental health issues.
Robertson said Matheson's relationship with his mother has been strained because of her "lack of parenting" over the years, but he has been working to rebuild that relationship since he has been in prison.
"His mother blames herself for his lack of parenting skills and he didn't have a good upbringing," he said.
He said Matheson is truly remorse for his actions that October night and wishes it never happened.
"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 taking rehabilitative services, but he said crime has had a devastating impact on the victim.
"Mr, Jones has not recovered from his injuries, he can't walk without assisted devices, he struggles with chronic pain and requires assistance for his day to day tasks," he said, adding that Jones also suffers significant financial burdens because of lack of employment and medical costs.
He said doctor reports show that Jones' wounds could have been fatal.
"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 time in prison.
RELATED: UPDATE: Matheson pleads guilty to attempted murder in Scott Jones case