A teenager who took part in an attack on a man playing tennis in a Vancouver Island park has lost his appeal in which he claimed he’d been acting in self-defence.
The 15-year-old boy, who is only referred to as A.A. in court documents, was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon in April 2018. He was one of four youths convicted in the violence in Duncan in August 2016.
The four teens were walking by a tennis court at Centennial Park that summer when they saw a 52-year-old man, referred to as B.B., hitting a tennis ball against a wall.
The group called the man a “loner” or “loser” at least twice before he lobbed a tennis ball at them, prompting one of the other teens, dubbed E.E., to shout further insults.
The man went after the teens, carrying his tennis racket, and chased them into a wooded area – a move the man himself called an “aggressive pursuit.” Court heard that he anticipated he would end up in some kind of physical confrontation that would include pushing, shoving, and possible punching.
Testimony of exactly what happened next was varied.
According to the victim, he and E.E. started pushing each other for about 30 to 40 seconds, before he was hit in the back of the head with an object. He said he backed away, telling the youth to stop, then started shoving the boy again until he was hit a second time.
The man identified E.E. as the youth who hit him a third time, with his racket, and called him a “little b***.”
His next memory was waking up in the woods, with the youth nowhere in sight.
Meanwhile, A.A. told police that he punched the man in the face before the man started fighting with E.E., who hit the man in the ribs with a log. The teen also said the man had pushed him into a pile of sticks, cutting his leg, before E.E. hit the man again – this time in the head.
As the youth were walking away, maybe 15 to 20 steps, the man picked up a log lying on the trail and said “one of you is going to die,” before running towards them. He hit A.A. in the hip, neck and forearm with the log, the court heard. The teen then punched the man in the face, again, as well as kicked him in the knee. As the man fell to the ground, another teen kicked him in the face – believed to be E.E.
The man was left with severe and permanent injuries, the court heard, including broken bones in his face that required surgery to repair.
The trial judge had determined the teen’s initial response of punching and shoving the man, who was similar in size, was proportional to the man’s force, but that he should have walked away after knocking the man to the ground.
“A.A. was a young man, approximately six feet tall, who played competitive football, and had the advantage of at least one other teen fighting alongside him,” the decision reads.
Because the judge couldn’t determine beyond a reasonable doubt who caused the specific injuries, A.A. was acquitted of aggravated assault.
In his appeal, the teen’s lawyer argued that the trial judge never asked if his client felt threatened, nor did he adequately considered his young age at the time of the incident.
But B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Patrice Abrioux disagreed, saying the teen was old enough to know what he was doing, and that while he may have started acting in self defense, his actions did turn into retaliation with the intent to injure the man.