The lawyer for the first person to plead guilty to participating in the Stanley Cup riot has thrown a wrench into Premier Christy Clark’s Throne Speech promise by saying he’ll oppose an application to have his client’s sentencing televised.
Ryan Dickinson, 20, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of participating in a riot and one count of breach of recognizance. Two charges of mischief over $5,000 were dropped as a result of his plea deal.
Eric Warren, Mr. Dickinson’s lawyer, told a provincial court judge on Tuesday he will not consent to his client’s image being splashed across television screens.
“I expect to oppose that application,” Mr. Warren said. The case was put over until Jan. 25.
Ms. Clark vowed the morning after the June riot to expose those involved to the public gaze. In October, her government used the Throne Speech to call for public court proceedings for anyone charged in connection with the riot.
“When it comes to the Stanley Cup riots, those guys had no problems doing their crimes quite in public with all kinds of people taking pictures and doing videos all around them, so I think they should have no problem being tried in public either,” the Premier told reporters after the speech.
The Criminal Justice Branch initially resisted the bid to have cameras in the courts. The government overruled the Crown’s objections and ordered prosecutors to push for broadcasts.
Legal observers said the plan was unlikely to succeed because judges were expected to allow cameras in courtrooms only with the consent of all parties, including defendants.
Neil MacKenzie, spokesman for the Criminal Justice Branch, said on Tuesday that might not be the case.
“The Supreme Court guidelines indicate that written consent of the named parties is necessary for the application,” he said. “The provincial court policy incorporates that by reference as something the court may use as a guideline. It’s not necessarily something that is a prerequisite in provincial court. That will be for the court to decide.”
Mr. Dickinson, who is from Coquitlam, has been in jail since his arrest for violating a curfew from a previous assault charge. Mr. Warren said his client expects to serve time for the riot conviction, although he did not provide further details or speak with reporters after the hearing.
Mr. Dickinson pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, then immediately switched lawyers. The reason for the switch is unclear. Mr. Warren is being compensated through the Legal Services Society.
Mark Benton, the society’s executive director, wouldn’t disclose how many people suspected of taking part in the riot are being represented through legal aid, although he said it’s “not a lot.”
Mr. Benton said the early broadcast applications are expected to set a precedent for the rest of the riot cases.
“They’ll have a significant influence … because we value consistency in the justice system,” he said.
Vancouver police held a news conference on Tuesday to update their riot investigation. The force said it has recommended charges against 20 more people, raising the total number to 100. In B.C., police must forward charge recommendations to the Crown for approval. The Crown has approved and laid charges against 30 people.
The police department has been much criticized for the pace of its investigation. It didn’t forward its first major batch of case files to the Crown until Oct. 31 – 4½ months after the riot.
Inspector Les Yeo said he’s confident prosecutors can handle the new batch of files, and another batch that will be forwarded in the near future.
Although only one person has pleaded guilty to participating in the riot seven months after it occurred, Inspector Yeo said he doesn’t believe the force has missed its opportunity to send a message.
“I think the message is still today, and it will in the future be passed to the rioters, that we won’t tolerate this in the city of Vancouver or anywhere in the province,” he said.