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Survivors describe Quebec swordsman’s demeanor as calm and confident


Warning: The following story includes a description of physical abuse

Calm, determined, wearing black clothes and holding a sword — this is how some of the survivors of the Quebec City sword attack described their assailant on Halloween night 2020, during testimony Tuesday morning .

The jury watched in silence, listening intently to witnesses who recalled the horrors they had seen – or survived – that night. The crowded Quebec City courtroom was silent on the third day of the trial of Carl Girouard, who temporarily suspended last Wednesday due to COVID-19.

The jury must determine whether or not Girouard, 26, is criminally responsible for the assaults he perpetrated against seven people. Girouard admits to having perpetrated the attacks, but his lawyer, Pierre Gagnon, maintains that he suffered from mental disorders at the time. The Crown maintains that he was perfectly sane and aware of his actions.

The first victim, musician Rémy Bélanger, said he was listening to a podcast and taking a photo of the Château Frontenac hotel in Quebec City when he saw a man in black with a sword walking towards him and raising the weapon, ready to attack. He thought it was a Halloween prank.

Musician Rémy Bélanger was the first person assaulted in Quebec on Halloween night 2020. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

“I thought it was a joke, I thought he came to annoy me,” he said.

Bélanger said he was first hit in the head. He remembers falling, getting gashes on his back and hand, and then picking up one of his fingers that had been severed.

He managed to flee his assailant, bleeding profusely, and eventually made it to the Château Frontenac. There, the staff first thought it was a Halloween prank, but quickly helped him and called an ambulance.

Bélanger suffered several injuries to the skull, neck, chest, arms and hip.

The cellist was transferred to a Montreal hospital specializing in limb replantation within hours of the attacks, where doctors worked hard to save his hand so he could play music again.

Carl Girouard parked his car in front of the emblematic Château Frontenac in Quebec before committing attacks against seven people. His route is shown on the map above. (Kristy Rich/CBC)

A witness to the first two attacks, whose name is protected by a publication ban, told the jury he initially thought he was witnessing a prank.

But the 17-year-old, who was sitting by a fountain, said he fled with his friend when he realized Belanger had in fact been injured.

Watching from the Dufferin Terrace, the teenagers said they saw Girouard running towards a second man, François Duchesne, and punching him.

The witness said he heard Duchesne exclaim “Oh come on” before falling to the ground. He said Girouard then ran through him with a sword. The 56-year-old succumbed to his injuries that night.

Girouard “looked serene”

The third and fourth victims, Pierre Lagrevol and Lisa Mahmoud, said they were walking together along Rue de Buade in Old Quebec when they noticed Girouard approaching them.

The two friends, who testified one after the other, said they thought he was in costume for Halloween. Mahmoud said she even smiled at him.

Lisa Mahmoud says she has had trouble sleeping and has had recurring nightmares since the attack. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Moments later, they said Girouard struck Lagrevol from the back, cutting off his head. Both men said they stopped thinking it was a prank when Girouard punched Lagrevol a second time, on his shoulder.

Mahmoud said she pushed the attacker away and asked him what he was doing, how he turned on her and hit her in a way she described as forceful and violent.

Lagrevol, who was trying to stop Girouard, said the youngster seemed to know what he was doing, the hits weren’t random.

All the while, he walked calmly and confidently, and “he looked serene,” Lagrevol said. “He wasn’t in shock over what he had just done.”

Pierre Lagrevol, a professional cook who lives in Old Quebec, says he yelled at Carl Girouard to stop attacking him and his friend Lisa Mahmoud. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Mahmoud, a hairdresser by profession, told the jury that she had not been able to work or sleep properly since the attacks.

The horror continues rue des Remparts

The Crown read written accounts from the husband and two neighbors of another victim, Suzanne Clermont.

The 61-year-old woman had gone outside to smoke a cigarette after finishing dinner with Jacques Fortin, who had stayed inside to do the dishes.

In his statement, Fortin said he went out to find his 18-year-old wife because her dog had started howling desperately.

He saw his wife lying bleeding on the sidewalk outside their door, her face lacerated.

Their neighbor, an emergency doctor, tried to perform CPR, but Clermont had lost too much blood. Fortin said he knew then that he would never see his wife again. Clermont died of her injuries at the scene.

Gilberto Lucio Porras Alvarado (right) said he was with three of his friends when Carl Girouard hit him in the head. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

Gilberto Lucio Porras Alvarado and three of his friends were next.

Porras Alvarado told the jury that the group went out to eat and take pictures. They were walking down Rue des Remparts when he saw a man approaching them, holding a sword.

The student noticed the reflection of the street lamp on the blade, thought the sword was real, and felt threatened.

He pulled out a pellet gun he was carrying as part of his Halloween costume but didn’t have time to use it. He said Girouard hit him on the head saying “Happy Halloween” as he did.

The group escapes at a run and Girouard follows one of his friends on the Côte de la Canoterie.

The friend, whose name is subject to a publication ban because he was a minor at the time, told the jury that he took refuge at a petrol station.

Girouard chose to remain silent after his arrest

Girouard was arrested by Quebec police in the early hours of November 1, 2020, after a brief stay at the hospital. (Provided by the Quebec City Police Department)

The Crown ended the day by showing a video of Carl Girouard at the police station.

Dressed in a green hospital gown, Girouard is seen staring straight ahead as an officer questions him.

Girouard did not respond to questions about his identity, address, phone number or occupation.

“You told me I could keep silent,” he can be heard saying.

Police officer Dany Gauthier, who brought him to the station, said the accused remained completely calm throughout his arrest and cooperated with the police.