A VicWest building manager who beat a tenant with baseball bat last year is guilty of aggravated assault, but not attempted murder, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday.
In a decision delivered the wake of a June trial in Victoria, Justice Mary Humphries found George Earl Storry attacked and injured Chris Gibson in a rooming house on Langford Street, but not with the intent of taking his life.
“This altercation went on for several minutes. Mr. Storry is in his sixties, considerably older than Mr. Gibson, but he is a large strong man,” she wrote in her decision. “If he had the intent to kill Mr. Gibson he could have done so in this time frame.
Storry had been charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in connection with the incident, which occurred May 22, 2015. Police, responding to a pair of 911 calls, found Gibson on a second-floor patio, covered with blood and saying he was dying.
Hidden under couch cushions in one of the rooms, they discovered two bats that later revealed Gibson’s DNA, which was also found on Storry’s shirt. Gibson had suffered two broken arms and lacerations of his scalp that required 43 staples to close.
Gibson testified he had answered a knock on his door to greet Storry when a second man flew past and hit him on the head with a bat. Gibson fell back into a mirror which shattered. He then slumped to the floor, where the man continued to hit him. He testified that Storry also hit him with a smaller bat, asked him where his “stuff” was and threatened to kill him.
Storry said he had knocked on Gibson’s door to investigate concerns reported by another tenant when the second man — another tenant and Storry’s friend — appeared and began ranting at Gibson about stealing his stuff. The argument escalated and the pair began hitting each other with bats. Storry said he pulled the other man off and told Gibson he couldn’t keep threatening people or someone would “put him in a trunk and take him for a ride.”
The judge determined the lack of injuries to the second man, witness testimony of hearing two threatening voices, and the patterns of blood in the room all supported Gibson’s version of the events as an unprovoked attack, not Storry’s version of an escalating argument. She also determined the evidence supported beyond a reasonable doubt that Storry and the second man both participated in the attack.
Storry had originally been scheduled to stand trial along with the second man, but the court stated the second man elected to switch his case to provincial court just prior to the trial, with the intention of pleading guilty.
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