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The Canadian Man Who Killed a British Guy at an Ayahuasca Retreat in Peru Speaks Out

"What I was saying to myself is that if he gets this knife back he's either going to kill me or the other two men here," Joshua Andrew Freeman Stevens told Canada's CTV News. "And that's when I made the decision to stab him."
Imagen vía CTV News

A Canadian man who killed a fellow tourist while on an ayahuasca retreat in the Peruvian Amazon says he was forced to take action to save his own life, and that of two others.

"I really thought I was going to die," Joshua Andrew Freeman Stevens told Canada's CTV News in an exclusive interview at his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

"What I was saying to myself is that if he gets this knife back he's either going to kill me or the other two men here," he said. "And that's when I made the decision to stab him."


Stevens said he traveled to the Phoenix Ayahuasca health center, run by Australian couple Mark and Tracie Thornberry, in December to seek relief for a painful skin condition that had covered his arm in a rash and made patches of his hair fall out.

He said Unais Gomes, a 25-year-old British tourist, had taken a double dose of the hallucinogenic drink ayahuasca, which has been used by indigenous people for millennia as an important spiritual and medicinal tool.

People who consume ayahuasca report having high-definition visions and a spiritual awakening that often revolves around feeling insignificant in the vast universe.

 Related: A Canadian Allegedly Killed a British Guy During an Ayahuasca Trip in Peru

Stevens said he grew "very concerned" when he heard Gomes, whom he described as a friend, screaming the name Yahweh.

Then Gomes turned to him and said: "You are Yahweh, you are Yahweh, and it's time to get your demons out, brother. It's time to get your demons out."

He said Gomes tried to stab him with a knife, but he grabbed a steel pot to defend himself.

"He swiped at me and he hit the table and his knife broke and I went to hit him with the pot and I hit him in the side of the body and my pot broke," said Stevens. "That's when he picked up this big butcher knife."

Stevens was arrested by Peruvian police following the stabbing and reportedly held for 24 hours before being released.

He expressed regret over what occurred, saying that Gomes told him they were going to be "life-long friends."

In a statement on the Phoenix Ayahuasca website, Tracie Thornberry, who was not there at the time of the incident, says she is "deeply shocked and saddened" by what occurred but that she is unable to make a detailed statement until police have completed their investigation.

"The fatal moments, when a knife was used, happened so quickly. This is such a rare and unusual event that we are all stunned. Our deepest condolences go to the families of all concerned," she wrote.

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