British Columbia

Stabbing in B.C. courtroom feud results in attempted murder charge

One of two women who have waged a 16-year feud online and in court has been charged with attempted murder in relation to a stabbing at the outset of a B.C. Supreme Court hearing last week.

Catherine Shen has remained in custody since allegedly stabbing rival in online war last week

A file photo from the B.C. Supreme Court building in Vancouver. Catherine Shen has been charged with stabbing her opponent at the court after a lengthy legal battle. (David Horemans/CBC)

One of two women who have waged a 16-year feud online and in court has now been charged with the attempted murder of her rival in relation to a stabbing at the outset of a B.C. Supreme Court hearing last week.

Catherine Shen has remained in custody since the attack last Tuesday on the third floor of the downtown Vancouver courthouse, where she and Jing Lu were expected to make an appearance before a judge.

Shen was initially charged with aggravated assault, but the charge has since been upgraded to attempted murder.

The 53-year-old has also been charged with assault with a weapon and possessing a knife or hammer for a dangerous purpose.

A publication ban has been placed on the details of Shen's bail hearing, which is set for June 14 — meaning she will spend at least another two weeks behind bars.

'Bordering on the irrational'

Lu was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries last week after Shen allegedly attacked her as the two were about to take their places before a judge to argue Lu's application to have Shen held in contempt of court.

Although the two women barely know each other, they have been trading insults through online forums since 2005, when both were preparing to emigrate from China to Canada.

Lu was the first to sue. 

She claimed Shen accused her online of being "too poor to buy a house" and then started making derogatory comments about her son. 

Shen responded to Lu's original lawsuit with a counterclaim.

"All what Jing Lu sued me [for] is what she did to me," Shen claimed.

She claimed Lu had lied and made up stories about her and her son for the past decade, putting up what she called "big face photos" to defame them.

Last April, Justice Elaine Adair settled the competing claims by ordering Lu to pay Shen $8,500 and Shen to pay Lu $9,000 in return.

The difference was the result of Shen's insistence on posting insults even after the commencement of the lawsuits.

Vancouver police officers wait outside the downtown B.C. Supreme Court building during a high-profile hearing in March. Police were called into the building last week after Catherine Shen allegedly stabbed Jing Lu before a court appearance. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Adair called the two women "mirror images of one another."

"Both of these women, for reasons that remain largely a mystery, have demonstrated conduct that is flagrant and extreme," the judge wrote in her ruling.

"Indeed, much of it could be described as obsessive and bordering on the irrational."

Allegation of contempt

The latest court appearance was prompted by what Lu claimed was Shen's failure to pay the final $250 of the damages awarded against her. She also claimed her rival had refused to remove the insulting posts.

Lu was seeking to have Shen imprisoned or fined for contempt of court.

Shen countered with a rambling 25-page response accusing Lu of intentional infliction of mental and physical suffering, abuse of court, waste of court resources and "false accusation."

The office of B.C.'s attorney general is reviewing the details of the attack to see if any further security measures are warranted.

All weapons are strictly prohibited from the courthouse, but sheriffs don't routinely check the public when they enter the building, aside from during some high-profile criminal cases.

None of the allegations against Shen have been proven in court.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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