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Man who broke into Brentwood house and killed woman gets life in prison

Alan Chapman was high on crack cocaine and looking for someone else when he broke into Emily Caruana’s grandmother’s house and killed the 20-year-old, stabbing her 38 times

Warning: This story contains graphic details of violence.

The Nanaimo man who broke into a Brentwood Bay home and fatally stabbed 20-year-old Emily Caruana three years ago has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 18 years.

In July, Alan Charles Chapman, 50, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Caruana and the aggravated assault of her uncle Jon Caruana and her boyfriend, Justin Booth.

At his sentencing Monday, court heard that Chapman was high on nitrous oxide and crack cocaine, raving and agitated when he broke into the home of Emily’s grandmother, Doris Caruana, on May 11, 2019.

He intended to kill someone else but killed Emily by mistake. For hours after the murder, Chapman believed he had murdered his intended victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

Emily Caruana and Booth, 24, had travelled from the Lower Mainland to spend Mother’s Day with her grandmother, her uncle Jon and his four-year-old daughter Abigail. The family spent the day together, visiting the Royal B.C. Museum and lunching at Pagliacci’s. They went to bed around 10 p.m.

Admissions of facts read into the court record revealed that around 12:30 a.m., Chapman, a large man weighing about 230 pounds, broke a window, entered the house and charged up the stairs, where he was confronted by Doris and her son Jon. Chapman was talking really fast and acting “like a crazy man.”

He asked where the knives were, wrenched open a kitchen door and grabbed a large chef’s knife.

Doris ran downstairs to call 911 and went outside. She could hear screaming and yelling inside the house and told the dispatcher she had been attacked and “he’s killing them.”

Jon tried to grab Chapman to prevent him going into the bedroom where Emily and Booth were sleeping, but Chapman stabbed him in the neck, back and arms. Jon collapsed in a pool of blood at the top of the stairs.

Chapman kicked the bedroom door open and started swinging the knife. He attacked Booth, then pulled Emily to the floor.

“He kept yelling at her that she was spreading rumours and needed to pay,” said the admissions.

Emily didn’t know what he was talking about. She begged and pleaded with Chapman, telling him he had the wrong person.

Chapman stabbed Emily 38 times. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The violence done to her was unspeakable,” said Justice Tony Saunders.

Chapman ran out of the house and started driving to Nanaimo. Shawnigan Lake and Duncan RCMP had been alerted by Central Saanich police that he might be heading their way. His car was spotted travelling north at speeds reaching 160 km/h. Police deployed a spike belt and Chapman was arrested without incident.

In the meantime, Jon Caruana and Booth were taken to Victoria General Hospital in critical condition. Their wounds were extremely serious. Caruana lost the use of his right kidney and was in the intensive care unit for five days. Booth had eight deep stab wounds to his torso and multiple defensive wounds to his hands. He was discharged from hospital after 14 days and has required a number of surgeries to regain the use of his hand.

In a victim impact statement, Emily’s aunt Christine Ottewell said the murder of Emily was the lowest point in her life and has plunged her entire family into crisis.

“We lose her again and again every day she is not here with us,” said Ottewell.

Emily died four weeks before she was set to graduate from college. She had been accepted into the University of British Columbia in the fall, and had signed up for driving lessons in July.

“She wanted to be an elementary school teacher and she died full of dreams,” said Ottewell. “She had so much to contribute and was well on her way.”

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt told the court Chapman has a long history of substance abuse and addiction. Before the murder, he lost his job and entered into a downward spiral of drug use.

The judge noted that Chapman has a sporadic criminal record, professed remorse for his actions and does not expect forgiveness.

Saunders sentenced Chapman to seven years for each aggravated assault, to be served concurrently with the life sentence.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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