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Prosecution of Vancouver Stanley Cup rioters costs up to $5-million

A riot officer watches as two police cars burn during a riot in downtown Vancouver on June 15, 2011 following the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The B.C. government spent $5-million prosecuting hundreds of people after the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, which saw an unruly crowd sweep through downtown Vancouver, torching vehicles, smashing storefronts and looting businesses. The lawlessness also resulted in a monetary loss to businesses and the city of nearly $4-million.

The figures are included in a final report from B.C.'s Ministry of Justice, released Monday, which looks at the scope and impact of the riot, costs incurred and the time-intensive steps taken to proceed with charges and prosecution.

Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, B.C.'s assistant deputy attorney-general, said the report provides important context for "appreciating the evidentiary and process complexities" of the cases stemming from the June, 2011, riot that went on for five hours after the Boston Bruins' 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

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In all, 912 charges were laid against 300 alleged rioters – 246 adults and 54 youths. Of those, 284 pleaded guilty, 10 chose to go to trial (of which nine were convicted) and the Crown ordered a stay of proceedings against six. Of convicted adults, 47 per cent spent time behind bars and 47 per cent received a conditional sentence. Three per cent received a suspended sentence and 3 per cent were discharged. Of convicted youth, 2 per cent spent time behind bars, while the rest received either probation or supervision orders.

Months after the riot, police had initially estimated that between 500 and 700 people would be charged.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is also chair of the Vancouver Police Board, expressed gratitude to Vancouver police and the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch.

"Their extensive investigations and successful prosecutions send a clear message that such behaviour will never be tolerated in Vancouver," he said.

The Criminal Justice Branch spent $4.8-million on staffing and $171,000 on expenses including travel, transcripts and law society fees, for a total of just under $5-million, the report stated. Monetary loss is estimated at $3.78-million: $2.7-million to businesses, $540,000 to civilians and $525,000 to the City of Vancouver, BC Ambulance Service and St. Paul's Hospital, the last of which saw 250 emergency-room visits.

A particularly onerous task was collecting and reviewing videos and photographs of the riot. Investigators had collected a total of 402 video and photo exhibits from 304 sources, totalling more than 5,500 hours of video and 29,700 photographs – more than 30 terabytes of data in all. All of that material was then sent to a video lab in Indianapolis, Ind., which at the time was the only lab capable of reviewing that much material.

"Fifty-one forensic video analysts and investigators worked for over 4,000 hours to process the video at [the lab]," completing the task in two weeks, the report stated. If the investigation team had not used the specialized lab, "it would have taken approximately 90 weeks to process the video in Vancouver."

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Investigators tagged the materials with rioter descriptions and were then able to use software to determine whether an individual suspect had committed multiple offences. Police had earlier explained that this time- and labour-intensive process was integral in getting a full picture of a rioter's offences over the course of the night.

Among other findings: 1,035 emergency-response staff responded to the downtown core, including 928 police officers (both Vancouver police and RCMP), 63 members of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service and 44 members of the BC Ambulance Service.

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About the Author
News reporter

Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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