Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Defendant in Vancouver riot case denies beating Good Samaritan

Robert MacKay, right, and an unidentified woman arrive at Provincial Court in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday February 4, 2014. The trial of four men accused of assaulting MacKay during the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver has heard that as soon as cars were set ablaze and store windows were smashed, there was little police could do to stop people from swarming into the downtown core.


One of four men on trial for an alleged assault on a so-called Good Samaritan during Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot testified Thursday that he was only trying to pull away a friend, who had joined in on the beating, but wasn't involved himself.

Carlos Barahona Villeda is among a mob of people accused of attacking Robert MacKay, who was later praised by police for trying to defend the Bay department store from looters on June 15, 2011.

But Barahona Villeda said he was pushed into the mob, and while a friend of his did join the assault, he said he doesn't remember touching MacKay himself.

Story continues below advertisement

"When (MacKay) got into the crowd, I got pushed from behind and I don't know if I touched him, but I tried to stop people form pushing from behind," Barahona Villeda told a provincial court judge as he was cross-examined.

"I was trying to get my friend Armando."

Crown prosecutor Rod Flannigan, however, alleged Barahona Villeda hit MacKay twice.

Barahona Villeda, as well as Ioannis Kangles, Michael MacDonald, and David Leonati, are charged with assault and for participating in a riot. All four people have pleaded not guilty.

The court heard that Barahona Villeda was in downtown Vancouver with several friends when the riot broke out following the Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins.

He testified that he was outside the Bay department store at one point that night, watching people destroy windows and break into the store.

That's when MacKay stepped forward to protect the storefront.

Story continues below advertisement

Barahona Villeda said MacKay grabbed his friend, Armando Garcia, who was standing in front of a broken window, and tossed him aside. Then someone walked towards MacKay, holding a metal pole, and MacKay yanked the pole away, the court heard.

"(MacKay) comes towards where I am, towards the crowd, and he almost hit me with a pole," Barahona Villeda said. "He goes into the crowd and people started pushing and throwing punches."

Garcia was convicted of participating in a riot and assault and is awaiting sentencing, according to court records.

During Thursday's hearing, the court saw video footage of the assault.

Barahona Villeda is seen wearing a blue and white striped T-shirt and moving among a sea of people. At one point, Barahona Villeda appears to be behind MacKay with his right arm up, bent at the elbow and his hand clenched into a fist.

"You've got your hand up and I'm saying to you, sir, that you're about there to hit Mr. MacKay," asked Flannigan.

Story continues below advertisement

"No," Barahona Villeda answered.

The video then shows MacKay being attacked by the group. Someone's arm, in a blue and white-striped T-shirt, is seen hitting the back of MacKay's head, though the attacker's face is not apparent.

"That's your arm. So you did come into contact with Mr. MacKay, right?" asked Flannigan.

Barahona Villeda answered it would seem that way in the video, but "from my recollection, I don't remember."

He also denied enjoying the violence and lawlessness that broke out in downtown Vancouver that night. The property damage and looting caused nearly $4-million in damages.

MacKay testified earlier in the trial that he was severely beaten by a mob after he tried to protect the Bay from people breaking in and stealing things.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨