Accused WCB hostage-taker halts trial

A man accused of taking hostages at the WCB office in Edmonton in 2009 has stunned a courtroom by saying moments into a five-week trial that he has changed his mind about representing himself.

Patrick Clayton asks for lawyer, decides not to represent himself

The man accused of taking nine hostages at the Workers' Compensation Board office in Edmonton in 2009 stunned a courtroom Monday when — moments into the five-week trial — he said he had changed his mind about representing himself.

"It's overwhelming," the man, Patrick Clayton, told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman. "I can't carry it out. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Clayton said he has applied for legal aid, adding that he hopes to interview lawyers at the remand centre and "pick the best one."

On Oct. 21, 2009, a man with a rifle entered the Edmonton's Workers' Compensation Board office at 107 Street and 99 Avenue and held nine people hostage.

The standoff ended peacefully after about 10 hours, with no injuries.

Clayton, 38, faces nine counts of unlawful confinement, six counts of pointing a firearm and charges of possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public, careless use and storage of a firearm and use of a firearm during the commission of an offence.

In June 2010, Clayton told the judge he wanted to represent himself at trial after firing his second lawyer.

Clayton will be back in court Jan. 21 to set a new trial date, likely in the fall.