The usually peaceful Cowichan River, pictured here in winter, was the scene of an altercation between neighbours in August, 2016, that involved dog feces and beer. (File photo)

Only one of four charges sticks in bizarre neighbour fight at Cowichan River

Altercation between neighbours involved dog feces and beer

A provincial court judge in Duncan has dismissed all but one charge of common assault against one of two defendants after a bizarre incident that took place in the summer of 2016 along the Cowichan River.

Jesse Thomas Bergman and Courtney Brianne Peterson were, altogether, charged with three counts of assault and one of uttering threats after a violent encounter with two of their neighbours while washing their dogs in the river on Aug. 22, 2016.

Warrick and Janice Whitehead alleged that Bergman and Peterson had physically assaulted them, smeared them with dog feces and Bergman poured beer over Warrick after the Whiteheads had complained to them about washing their dogs in the river with soap when water levels were low, impacting the ecosystem.

But the accused claimed that it was the Whiteheads who aggressively approached them at the river, and smeared their belongings with dog feces that they claimed was left on a trail to the river by their dogs.

There was already bad blood between Bergman and Peterson and the Whiteheads over a number of issues between the neighbours before the fight at the river.

Judge J.P MacCarthy ruled on Oct. 30, 2017, that on the first count in the case, in which it was alleged that Bergman uttered a threat to Janice Whitehead to cause death or bodily harm to her husband, the Crown failed to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and dismissed the charge.

On the second count, that Bergman assaulted Warrick Whitehead and caused bodily harm, McCarthy concluded that while Bergman did strike Whitehead in the ribs, he did so in circumstances where he was protecting Peterson from Whitehead and dismissed the charge.

On the third count, which alleged that Peterson assaulted Janice Whitehead, the judge ruled that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Peterson either spread dog excrement on or punched Janice Whitehead and dismissed the charge.

On the fourth count, which alleged that Bergman and Peterson assaulted Warrick Whitehead, McCarthy concluded that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Peterson either spread dog excrement or poured beer on Whitehead or in any other way assaulted him and dismissed the charge against her.

The judge also concluded that while Bergman did strike Whitehead on the ear, as was alleged, he did so in circumstances where he was defending himself from the assaultive behaviour of Whitehead.

But MacCarthy did find Bergman guilty of common assault for pouring beer on Whitehead as he lay prone on the ground during the incident.

Bergman received an absolute discharge.

Just Posted

Burning season has arrived in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, but beware of bylaws

It’s officially burning season in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as residents… Continue reading

Francophone parents hoping to set up a French school in the Valley

Their children have a right to be educated in French, these parents say

Voter’s Guide for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

Check out our voter’s guide for tomorrow’s federal election: Image across page,… Continue reading

VIDEO: Climate change, veterans, tax cuts: it was all there at Lake Cowichan all-candidates debate

All six candidates faced off in the final Cowichan Valley debate of this federal election season

Cowichan T-Birds finish 5th at Bridgman Cup

Cow High contends at Victoria’s prestigious field hockey tournament

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for western Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Most Read