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Men charged in 'vicious' 2017 home invasion, machete attack in Oak Bay, B.C.

Nearly six years after a violent home invasion at a beachfront estate in Oak Bay, B.C., left a woman with severe stab wounds and triggered a manhunt and lockdowns at nearby schools, two men are facing charges in the crime.

Kaspar Handspiker, 30, was arrested Sunday near Maple Ridge, B.C. He is charged with aggravated assault, breaking and entering and committing an indictable offence.

His alleged accomplice, Christopher Standell, 52, is charged with attempting to commit an offence or acting as an accessory after the fact.

The charges stem from an April 25, 2017, robbery in which a lone intruder broke into a house in the 2500-block of Esplanade Road, near Willows Beach, and repeatedly slashed a woman with what police described as a machete.

The attacker fled the scene and evaded responding officers and investigators.

Nermeen Alireza, 45, was rushed to hospital where she would undergo surgeries to reattach three fingers and insert steel plates in her shattered arm. She also suffered a dislocated shoulder and required stitches and staples in her head.

"This high-profile, vicious attack had a significant impact in our community," Oak Bay police Chief Mark Fisher said in a statement Thursday.

"Supporting this investigation has been a priority for our department and I hope that these charges bring some level of comfort to the victim and those impacted by this crime."

'I WAS SLIPPING IN MY OWN BLOOD'

Speaking publicly for the first time following the assault, Alireza told CTV News in 2020 that she was alone, housesitting for her parents at the Oak Bay address, when she heard drawers opening and closing in the kitchen around 7 a.m.

She entered the room and was met by a man wearing a bandana over his face, "like in the old Western movies," she said.

"I felt more angry than scared because I didn’t understand what was going on," Alireza said, describing how she tried to push the intruder out of the kitchen.

"I just felt this very heavy thud land on my head – didn’t recognize what it was – and then a few seconds later I slipped and fell and when I looked down I realized I was slipping in my own blood," she recalled.

The attacker struck Alireza several more times with a large blade as she collapsed to the ground.

The assailant fled the home and a manhunt ensued, prompting police to warn residents to lock their doors, even while home.

The investigation appeared to stall until last April, when investigators revealed that a secondary crime scene was discovered on the day after the attack.

Police said the related scene, approximately 45 kilometres away in Sooke, B.C., was connected to the attack by a blue Ford Explorer pickup that was recorded travelling between the two sites.

Investigators did not identify the secondary crime scene or discuss its relation to the machete attack but sought witnesses who may have seen the truck or could identify its owner.

"As both [suspects] have been formally charged and this matter is now before the courts, we are unable to provide any further details about the investigation," said Const. Markus Anastasiades of the Saanich Police Department, which assisted in the investigation.

"My family and I are relieved to hear of the arrests, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Saanich and Oak Bay Police," said Alireza in a statement through the Saanich police on Thursday.

"I am truly grateful to everyone that was involved and would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to both police departments, the Oak Bay Fire Department, ambulance service, hospital staff and surgeons, as well as the Island Hand Therapy Clinic." 

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