A Prince George man has been convicted of intimidation of a justice system participant after punching a Crown counsel outside the courthouse while on a violent tear through the city's downtown 16 months ago.
B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen issued the verdict to Adrian Real Bergeron on Friday following a three-day trial in which the court heard he knocked Alex Schmeisser unconscious with what had been described as a "roundhouse" swing.
Schmeisser required extensive surgery and still has plates in the right side of his face from the attack on the morning of Sept. 15, 2011. He still requires a special prism in his glasses to counter double vision and suffers headaches if he reads for too long.
Schmeisser, who is now back at work, also testified he sometimes must confront a sense of fear while performing his duties as a result of the incident.
Bergeron had already pleaded guilty to aggravated assault from the attack but contested the intimidation charge. At issue was whether Bergeron had intended to invoke fear in Schmeisser and so impede his ability to do his job.
Defence lawyer Terry Laliberte had argued Bergeron was simply "lashing out" when he struck Schmeisser as part of a series of acts that began 15 to 20 minutes before when he got into an argument with another client at a downtown homeless shelter on Sixth near Dominion.
When he refused to calm down, Bergeron was told he was going to be taken out of a long-term housing program for which he had been approved the day before and in response, he struck a manager at the shelter and then smashed most of the building's outside windows with a chair.
Bergeron then made his way to the courthouse, throwing a rock through the window of a police van along the way. When he arrived at the courthouse, Bergeron went into the lobby and started swearing at court registry staff "because they worked for the police." He jumped on the rollout gate separating the registry from the lobby and then tried to use the elevator before the sheriffs arrived.
When Bergeron went outside, he saw Schmeisser as he was walking towards the building, punched him and left him lying in the middle of George Street. He was arrested in a vacant lot a short distance away.
Witnesses said Bergeron accused Schmeisser of putting him in jail - an assertion found to be inaccurate during testimony - and threatened to kill him before throwing the punch. Witnesses also said that as he was being arrested, Bergeron was yelling back at Schmeisser words to the effect that he deserved what he got.
Cullen disagreed with Laliberte's argument, saying it ignores the fact that his outburst was also directed at police and court staff. Schmeisser had appeared in court at the same time as Bergeron on occasions in the past and is "fairly distinctive" given his height and appearance, Cullen had also noted.
Bergeron had also pleaded guilty to assault and mischief to property over $5,000 in connection with the spree. He will be sentenced once a presentence report has been completed in about two months.
Both the aggravated assault and the intimidation charge carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.