January 19, 2016 - 6:30 PM
PENTICTON - A youth who claimed to have stabbed another man in self defence during an altercation was judged guilty of aggravated assault in Penticton Youth Court earlier this month.
The man, who was 16 at the time of the incident and identified in court documents as S.L., argued he used reasonable force when he stabbed Philip Webber four times during a fight that took place in Osoyoos on Oct. 15, 2014.
But that wasn’t how Judge Gregory Koturbash saw it after reviewing the facts of the case in a decision handed down Jan. 8.
Webber was invited to a party already in progress after S.L. and two others went to a cold beer store after they ran out of alcohol. They met Webber at the liquor store and invited the 32-year-old man to join them.
Back at the party, Webber became aggressive to one of the female guests. He was told to leave the woman alone, but stayed at the party and continued to drink heavily.
Around 11 p.m., Webber and another man, identified as Mr. K, who was also only 16, left the party to get cigarettes.
They were gone so long, S.L. became concerned and decided to go looking for him with another man, known as Mr. D.
Before leaving, S.L. was given a knife.
The two parties ran into each other a short distance from the residence, where Webber, who was now extremely drunk, testified he was confronted by a person he’d not seen before. He said he was then grabbed by two people who held him while a third began punching him.
He further testified he did not see a weapon and didn’t realize he’d been stabbed until he fell to the ground.
Mr. D and S.L.’s testimony about the incident was consistent with each other, but differed from Webber’s.
They said the fight began after talking about finding a person who had urinated on a homeless man. Webber looked at S.L. and asked him if he thought he was tough, before pushing him backwards.
S.L. got up and the two began punching each other.
Mr. D testified he tried to stop the fight, but to him it was obvious the two wished to continue. S.L. was landing some punches, which failed to stop Webber.
S.L. testified he continued backing up until he reached a point where he became concerned he was going to get beaten.
The two continued to exchange blows until S.L. pulled out the knife and threatened Webber, who dared him to use it.
Webber then grabbed his collar and continued punching S.L., who began swinging the knife, which again seemed to have no effect on Webber.
However, Webber had been stabbed four times in the abdomen, injuries which ultimately resulted in the loss of a portion of his intestines.
The two were then separated.
S.L. was asked in cross examination why he didn’t run away. He said he didn’t know, claiming he was drunk and probably not in the right state of mind. He admitted he probably could have run away.
In coming to his decision, Judge Koturbash’s review of the evidence indicated S.L. was not subject to a serious amount of force from Webber in the fight. He noted S.L. had opportunity to run away during the fight due to Webber’s high degree of intoxication, but didn’t.
The judge also noted S.L. should have anticipated the possibility of an altercation with Webber, who was quite a bit older and very intoxicated. Having the knife in S.L.’s possession also made Webber the more vulnerable.
Judge Koturbash also noted of that while the two two combatants were roughly the same height, S.L. was 20 - 30 pounds lighter. Even so, he had another that night due to Webbers’ level of intoxication.
The judge ultimately found the most relevant factors were the extent to which the use of force by Webber was imminent and whether there were other means available to S.L. to respond to the potential use of force, in addition to the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties involved in the incident.
The judge found S.L.’s use of force unreasonable under the circumstances, adding it wasn’t reasonable for S.L.to stab Webber when he could have simply run away from the situation, thus finding S.L. guilty of aggravated assault.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016