Calgary

Victim of sword attack tried to save son by sacrificing herself, judge told

WARNING: This story contains disturbing and graphic details. The Airdrie, Alta., woman who lost three fingers and was severely injured in an act of domestic violence told her attacker she would sacrifice herself in order to save her teenage son.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing and graphic details

Dawn Warden suffered severe, life-altering injuries in a domestic attack last June. She lost three fingers and suffered significant scarring to her face, shoulder and abdomen in the sword attack. (Support for the Warden Family GoFundMe page)

The Airdrie, Alta., woman who lost three fingers and was severely injured in an act of domestic violence involving a sword made a deal with her attacker — she would sacrifice herself in order to save her teenage son.

Dawn Warden was attacked last June by her boyfriend Collin Ayorech. 

The crime was detailed in a Calgary courtroom for the first time on Friday as an agreed statement of facts was read aloud by prosecutor Mike Ewenson, following Ayorech's guilty pleas in December.

With her bedroom on fire, Warden, bleeding and gravely injured, agreed to go into her closet on the condition Ayorech would let her 18-year-old son out of the apartment, provincial court Judge Anne Brown was told Friday.

Ayorech had previously been charged, in May 2019, with assaulting Warden with a weapon. He was released on bail on the condition he stay away from her and her son.

But two weeks later, the two were spending time together. On June 9, they were in her bedroom drinking when they got into an argument.

Ayorech picked up a sword that was on a bench.

With two hands, he began to swing and slice at Warden.

"He hit her right shoulder causing a deep and long laceration and continued hitting her cutting her breast, ear and face, leg, abdomen and severed two fingers on her right hand and one on her left," reads the agreed statement of facts.

Then, Ayorech doused a mattress in lighter fluid and lit it on fire. 

"You know what we have to do now," he said to Warden.

Warden agreed to go into her bedroom closet on the condition Ayorech got her son out of the burning apartment.

"Bleeding profusely," Warden got into her closet, closed the door and lost consciousness. When she woke up, the sprinklers had been activated. 

She crawled to the apartment door and shouted for her son. The two escaped along with their dog. 

History of schizophrenia

Warden has had several surgeries and has significant scarring to her face, shoulder and abdomen. 

Three of her fingers were permanently severed. She can no longer work as a hairdresser.

Originally charged with attempted murder, arson and possession of methamphetamine, Ayorech pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, arson and breaching a no-contact order.

Ayorech has a history of schizophrenia and serious addictions to alcohol and cocaine.

Defence lawyer Rebecca Snukal said her client has no memory of the attack.

At a previous court appearance, Snukal requested an NCR (not criminally responsible) hearing, which determined Ayorech was not suffering a psychotic break at the time of the attack.

Prosecutors Ewenson and Joe Mercier along with Snukal will make sentencing submissions before Judge Brown at a later date.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.