A third man pleaded guilty on Tuesday in the beating of a fisherman on the sidewalk by the Petro-Canada gas station on River Road last summer.
BC Provincial Court Judge P. McCarthy handed Matthew Labadie, 22, a one-year suspended sentence for the beating of Bert McCarthy, who received a broken leg and other injuries in the 2012 incident.
Labadie pleaded guilty to common assault in Port Alberni provincial court on Tuesday morning.
Labadie was also sentenced to 11 months’ probation, ordered not to have contact with the victim and ordered to do 40 hours of community work.
The two youths who were also involved in McCarthy’s beating were given similar sentences earlier this year.
“Assaults that involve more than one person on another are unacceptable in a civilized society,” Judge McCarthy said. “All of the individuals should understand that violence is not an acceptable way of resolving disputes.”
The sentence was a joint submission between the Crown and Labadie’s attorney Chris Churchill, the court noted.
The arc of events began on May 12, 2012 when McCarthy was assaulted by three males outside the Petro-Canada gas station on River Road, prosecutor Christina Proteau said as she read the facts in court.
McCarthy was taken to West Coast General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with head injuries and a severely broken leg.
RCMP used video evidence to trace the owner of one of the trucks involved in the incident. The owner, an adult male, was taken into custody. After being told what happened, he said he wasn’t responsible, told police the names of Labadie and the two youths, and they subsequently turned themselves in.
In a statement to police, McCarthy said he saw two pickups with jet skis at the gas station, and asked the owner about them. The older of four males asked him if he had a problem and called him by a racial slur, McCarthy stated.
McCarthy, who is aboriginal, said he replied, “No, I don’t have a problem.”
McCarthy said he walked away from the scene but turned and saw that three men were following him. The next thing McCarthy knew he was on the ground and was being kicked and punched repeatedly by the men.
Video evidence taken from the Petro-Canada and Clutesi Haven Marina showed four males load two jet skis aboard two pickup trucks then drive to Petro-Canada, the court was told.
At the gas station, video shows McCarthy approach the group and stop there for several seconds. McCarthy is shown to walk away but two males, one of whom is identified as Labadie, ran after him followed by one other male. They disappear from the camera then re-appear 30 seconds later, get into their trucks and leave.
The Crown chose not to pursue the matter as a hate crime. “The Crown was not able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt,” Proteau said.
Churchill said Labadie takes responsibility for his part in the incident. He admits to following McCarthy, to fighting with him and to punching him when he was on the ground. Labadie further turned himself in and cooperated with police, Churchill said.
Labadie’s account of what happened differs from McCarthy’s, Churchill said.
Labadie stated McCarthy approached the group in an aggressive manner and got into an argument with the other unnamed adult that was present (but not charged).
McCarthy accused the group of running over a fishing net in the river earlier then swore at the man before walking away, Labadie said. Labadie followed and the fight ensued.
“I wish it never happened, that’s about all I have to say,” Labadie said.