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Man charged with attempted murder of Saint John police officer may seek psychiatric assessment

Corey Clarke, 35, seen here in a photo posted on his Facebook page in 2014, is charged with the attempted murder of Saint John Police Force Const. Johnathan Grenier on Feb. 21. (Facebook/Corey Clarke - image credit)
Corey Clarke, 35, seen here in a photo posted on his Facebook page in 2014, is charged with the attempted murder of Saint John Police Force Const. Johnathan Grenier on Feb. 21. (Facebook/Corey Clarke - image credit)

The court case of a 35-year-old man accused of attempting to kill a Saint John police officer by stabbing him has been set over for two weeks as he considers seeking a psychiatric assessment.

Corey Clarke, who is facing six charges, appeared in Saint John provincial court on Monday for a bail hearing, but his lawyer Matthew Oliver told the court he wanted to reserve his right to a bail hearing and requested that his client be sent for a 30-day psychiatric assessment instead — "for a mental health condition at the time of the offence."

Judge Andrew Palmer asked if he was seeking an assessment for fitness to stand trial or for criminal responsibility.

"For both, presumably," replied Oliver.

Clarke is charged with the attempted murder of Const. Jonathan Grenier at the Canadian Tire on the city's west side last week, as well as aggravated assault of the officer.

Police responded to reports of a man armed with a knife threatening staff and causing damage inside the store at 885 Fairville Blvd. on Feb. 21, shortly after 8 p.m.

Grenier has been released from hospital and remains off duty, recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, the force announced on Friday.

Clarke is also charged with assaulting a woman with a knife, possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, mischief under $5,000 for wilfully damaging glass display cases at the store, and resisting two officers in the execution of their duty in connection with the incident.

The second-degree murder trial of Justin David Breau began to hear evidence in Saint John on Wednesday afternoon.
The second-degree murder trial of Justin David Breau began to hear evidence in Saint John on Wednesday afternoon.

Clarke remains in custody and will return to court on March 11. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Crown prosecutor Jill Knee noted the threshold for a fitness assessment might not have been met, and if Oliver is "putting NCR (not criminally responsible) at issue," that could effectively imply admission of the act.

Oliver advised the court he hasn't reviewed the file yet. "I'm not willing to speak to that," he said.

Knee said some disclosure is available now, but the investigation continues so the disclosure will be ongoing.

She suggested the two-week adjournment to give Oliver the opportunity to review disclosure, and to discuss with his client what seeking a criminal responsibility assessment would mean.

Clarke, who was wearing bright orange jail-issued clothing, sat quietly in the prisoner's box during the proceedings and told the judge he understood, as his parents looked on from the gallery.

Clarke tapped his right hand over his heart when he saw his parents. His mother returned the gesture.

He is scheduled to return to court on March 11, when he's expected to elect his mode of trial and enter pleas.

Clarke is also facing three charges dating back to 2017-18, in the Kingston area. He is accused of assaulting and threatening a man and then failing to attend court.