Lawyers debated during closing arguments Thursday whether Adrian Real Bergeron had "requisite intent" when he punched a Prince George Crown prosecutor outside the courthouse 16 months ago and left him with severe and ongoing injuries.
Bergeron has pleaded guilty to assaulting Alex Schmeisser and the question was whether he did so with the aim of instilling fear and consequently impede a member of the justice system in the performance of his duties.
If that is found to be the case, Bergeron will be subject to a stiffer sentence.
Crown counsel Ravi Hira, a Vancouver lawyer specially appointed to the case, maintained the Bergeron knew Schmeisser was a Crown prosecutor and that the "natural consequences" of the punch would have affected the victim's ability to do his work.
Schmeisser was knocked unconscious in the attack on the morning of Sept. 15, 2011 and was off work for two-and-a-half months as he underwent extensive reconstructive surgery to the left side of his face.
He continues to suffer from its effects, notably double vision, trouble reading and periodic headaches that will likely continue for the rest of his life, the court heard during testimony.
Although he stressed that Schmeisser's injuries are "horrific," defence lawyer Terry Laliberte nonetheless maintained Bergeron was simply "lashing out" when he went on a 20-minute spree after he was taken out of a long-term housing program for acting up at a downtown homeless shelter.
It started at about 8:10 a.m. when Bergeron struck a program manager at the Active Support Against Poverty shelter on Sixth near Dominion then went outside and smashed the building's windows with a chair. Bergeron has also admitted to throwing a rock through a police van window as he made his way to the courthouse.
There, he went inside and started swearing at the staff "because they worked for the police" and, when told to mind his language, jumped on the cage separating registry from the lobby and then tried to use the elevator before the sheriffs arrived.
Bergeron went back outside and struck Schmeisser as he was crossing George Street.
"He was acting out in a very, very mindless way," Laliberte said.
Laliberte contended the Crown's case is based on circumstantial evidence and that there are inconsistencies in the testimony in terms of the path Bergeron took upon leaving the courthouse, how he was arrested and what he said before hitting Schmeisser and upon being apprehended.
He suggested Bergeron would have delivered more than one blow and noted the accused yelled that Schmeisser had put him in jail, a claim that was not true and attests to his state of mind.
"It's not the effect of the accused's activity but rather the intent," Laliberte argued.
In a rebuttal Hira argued otherwise.
"To go over to the prosecutor and to say 'you put me in jail, I'm going to kill you' and strike him in the manner in which he struck the prosecutor and then to say basically, 'you got what you deserved because you put me in jail wrongfully,' shows the accused had the intention to invoke a state of fear and to do so to impede the prosecutor in the performance of his duties is the only rational conclusion on this evidence. The fact that the accused was mindlessly lashing out doesn't detract from that conclusion. Revenge doesn't detract from that conclusion. It may provide motive but it doesn't detract."
B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen will issue his verdict this morning.