“Ashamed and deeply embarrassed” by what he did the night of the Stanley Cup riot – acts that have the Crown pushing for more than 18 months in jail – the first person to plead guilty to participating in the June event admitted his mistake.
He did it far away from the cameras, one day after the provincial court ruled against the government’s attempt to broadcast riot-related proceedings. That loss prompted the government to suddenly pull the plug on a promise that had come to be dubbed Riot TV.
On Tuesday, however, Premier Christy Clark vowed to continue on with efforts to open up the courts.
Ryan Dickinson pleaded guilty last month to one count of participating in a riot and one count of breach of recognizance. Two counts of mischief over $5,000 were dropped as a result of his plea deal.
The 20-year-old’s name made headlines in recent weeks after the Crown, on order of Premier Christy Clark and Attorney-General Shirley Bond, pushed for his sentencing to be broadcast. The Crown dismissed that application Monday.
Tuesday, during sentencing, Mr. Dickinson’s lawyer read out a letter his client prepared for the court.
“I’m sorry for my unexplainable actions that took place during the Stanley Cup riot,” the letter read. “I’m ashamed and deeply embarrassed. I was caught up in the moment. I made some very bad decisions that day and I’m going to take full responsibility for my actions.”
Mr. Dickinson’s case is unique from the nearly four dozen other people who’ve been charged in connection with the riot, which broke out after the hometown Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Many of those charged have no criminal record. Mr. Dickinson, however, has a previous conviction for an assault in which he kicked a man in the head. He served 10 days in jail as a result and was under curfew the night of the riot.
What impact his sentence will have on other rioters remains to be seen. But the Crown, characterizing Mr. Dickinson as “an angry young man” with a pattern of troubling behaviour, asked that the Coquitlam resident serve 15 to 18 months on the riot count, and an additional one to three months on the breach of recognizance count.
Mr. Dickinson has been in custody since Dec. 8. Because his case was delayed by the broadcast application, prosecutor Patti Tomasson suggested he receive one-and-a-half times credit for time served. Eric Warren, Mr. Dickinson’s lawyer, agreed.
However, Mr. Warren argued his client’s overall sentence should be no more than one year. He disputed Ms. Tomasson’s claim that Mr. Dickinson was one of the instigators of the riot and repeated his client’s stance that he got caught up in the moment.
Having seen footage of Mr. Dickinson throwing newspaper boxes at unmarked police cars and store windows, Judge Malcolm MacLean shot back: “That moment went on for some time, though.”
Mr. Warren said his client has not been involved in any untoward activity since the riot and is hoping the incident helps turn his life around.
Judge MacLean, saying he had a lot of material to consider, told the court he would issue his decision Thursday.
The morning after the riot, which left $3.7-million in damages, the Premier vowed to expose those involved to public view. In October, Ms. Clark’s government used the Throne Speech to call for broadcast proceedings for anyone charged in connection with the riot.
That comment drew fire from some lawyers, who accused the Premier of trying to publicly shame people who hadn’t been convicted.
Ms. Clark then finessed her message, to say she was simply trying to make the courts more accessible to the public. She repeated that point Tuesday.
“I think it’s an idea whose time has come,” Ms. Clark said of cameras in the courts. “We are going to have to find ways to try to get there.”
She would not say that her approach was wrong, but said it became clear pursuing the broadcast applications would have led to case delays.
When asked if government should have consulted with judges before calling for riot cases to be broadcast, the Attorney-General did not directly respond to the question.
“I have heard from literally countless British Columbians who support opening up courtrooms in British Columbia so I don’t think it was a process that wasn’t worth the effort,” Ms. Bond said.
With a report from Justine Hunter in Victoria