Kelowna News

Video of lethal punch shown at Kelowna Cactus Club manslaughter trial

Ontario tourist Zach Gaudette died after getting punched outside a Kelowna Cactus Club Feb. 17, 2016. Lawyers for Cory Van Gilder say he was acting in self defence when he threw the lethal punch.
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KELOWNA – The man who died from a single punch outside a Kelowna Cactus Club posed a “major threat” to as many as 30 people.

That according to testimony today, June 20, given by a witness in the Kelowna Supreme Court manslaughter trial of Cory Van Gilder.

Van Gilder admits he threw the first and only punch at 30-year-old Ontario tourist Zachary Gaudette outside the Cactus Club on Feb. 17, 2016, but his lawyers argue it was because of Gaudette’s threatening behavior.

Tyson Attwood was outside the restaurant that night when he and two friends heard someone yelling incoherently from the intersection of Banks Road and Highway 97.

“It was pretty much jibberish,” Attwood testified. “Screaming about fighting and cussing repeatedly. He was just screaming and swearing, 'you got a problem? I’ll fight everyone here.'”

Attwood says Gaudette appeared high and irrational, and posed a “major threat” to everyone in the area.

“He just came over from the traffic light and he was really angry about something. It seemed like he was looking for a fight. He was peeling his layers off as he was walking through the parking lot.”

The closer Gaudette got, the more worried Attwood says he became for his safety and that of his friends.

“I thought we were going to get in a fight for sure,” he told Justice Gary P. Weatherill. “He was being really aggressive.”

Video footage of the incident was shown to the eight men and four women of the jury today.

The low light video shows a man cross over to a group of people, engage with them briefly before another man, Cory Van Gilder, steps forward and hits him once on the left side of his face. He falls to the ground.

Attwood says he felt Van Gilder was protecting them but described the lethal punch as “regular.”

“It wasn’t like the hardest punch I’d seen,” he said. “He wasn’t throwing all his might into it. He didn’t jump into it.”

Attwood says someone called an ambulance while he collected the clothes Gaudette had removed. When he put the clothing next to Gaudette, he looked at his eyes and knew something was wrong.

“Once (Gaudette) hit the ground, I’ve never seen someone react like that from getting punched,” he said. “He was almost frozen, he wasn’t blinking. He looked odd.”

Van Gilder and his friends did not wait for the ambulance to arrive.

Gaudette would die in hospital two days later.

The trial is scheduled for seven more days. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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