A wheelchair-bound, former Vancouver gang member pleaded guilty to a kidnapping mid-trial and is waiting in custody to find out how much time he is spending in jail.
Scott Andrew McArthur, 27, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and using an imitation firearm to commit an indictable offence after the trial on the matter had begun June 1. Guilty pleas were entered June 28, when the trial was scheduled to continue.
The victim of the kidnapping, Brett Riopel, was given $200 worth of methamphetamine to sell by McArthur in October 2015. The next day, McArthur sent threatening texts relating to the drug debt owed. In the early morning hours on Oct. 17 Riopel attended the residence of McArthur’s co-accused, Angel Dyck, who also pleaded guilty to charges related to the kidnapping earlier this week. McArthur was at the residence and produced what Riopel thought was a revolver, but is alleged to be an imitation firearm. It was not proven in court whether the gun was real or fake. McArthur threatened to shoot Riopel and escorted him into a vehicle along with Riopel’s dog and Dyck got into the driver’s seat.
The firearm was continuously pointed at Riopel who was driven around Penticton in hopes of collecting enough money to shore up the debt. The group visited Riopel’s ex-girlfriend house on Huth Avenue.
“He told Mr. Riopel not to go into the house, that she was to bring the money to him. They told him if he didn’t come back with the money Mr. McArthur would shoot Mr. Riopel’s dog and Mr. Riopel,” Crown counsel Kurt Froehlich said.
Riopel asked the woman to call the police, but she did not have a phone at her disposal. After Dyck and McArthur picked up two associates, the police were eventually contacted by Riopel’s grandmother after he received some cash from her when the group stopped at her residence.
Police arrived at Dyck’s residence at Skaha Place where they located the vehicle reportedly involved in the kidnapping, where an officer observed Dyck exit the driver’s seat of the vehicle. All occupants of the vehicle were arrested at the time and McArthur has remained in custody since.
McArthur had pledged to turn his life around to the same judge currently tasked with handing down this sentence, Judge Greg Koturbash, who was unimpressed by McArthur’s apology, asked why he should believe his “crocodile tears” after his last apology. (Read more: Former gang member vows to turn life around)
“It’s been a large wake up call for him,” McArthur’s defence counsel Matthew Fingas, who added the multi-year sentence he faces is a “big step-up.”
McArthur’s legs were both amputated after he was viciously stabbed by multiple assailants in the Lower Mainland on Dec. 26, 2014 for refusing to smuggle drugs into prison.
McArthur reportedly died on the operating table twice and was pronounced dead at the scene after the stabbing by emergency responders.
After moving to Penticton with his mother, McArthur pleaded guilty to the break in of a Vancouver business in Penticton Provincial Court. He promised Koturbash he was going to turn his life around, noting that he has been through hell and he was “no longer a threat to society.”
McArthur’s troubled background was once again outlined in court, this time by Fingas, who said McArthur faced physical and sexual abuse as a young man and that both he and his mother struggled with substance abuse issues, McArthur from as young as the age of 10. He also noted that McArthur still suffers from immense medical challenges, his life expectancy cut short, and as recently as April getting an operation for an infection related to his injuries. He also alleged that McArthur was assaulted with his own wheelchair while imprisoned at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre — where McArthur has been in enhanced protected custody for his protection.
“I really want to be better with my life after what has happened,” McArthur told Koturbash in September, 2015, adding that he planned on speaking to school children about the dangers of gang life, something he was “looking forward to.”
McArthur was technically in jail, serving the nine-month conditional sentence for the prior break in at his mother’s residence, when he committed the kidnapping.
McArthur apologized for wanting to take the matter to trial.
“Deep down inside I knew I felt guilt and shame for the crimes that I have done and just admitting to it now,” McArthur said, wiping away tears. “I know I’ve made promises to you before in your court to change and then getting caught up in this mess that I have doesn’t really show much, but I just want to apologize for everything.
“I’m not going to get caught up or wrapped up in this gang (expletive) any longer, I don’t want to have nothing to do with it. I’ve been tied into it ever since I was a little kid,” McArthur continued. “I’m done with it, I’m done with it all.”
However, Koturbash was quick to remember a similar speech given by McArthur months earlier.
“It’ll be a challenge for me to accept that you’re sincere in what you say. I find it a bit curious as well sir, that the time that you spent talking, you talked about your mom, you talked about yourself, but didn’t talk about the victim once,” said Korturbash.
Crown counsel is seeking a sentence in the range of five to seven years in jail and a firearms ban for life, and Fingas is seeking a two to three year jail term. The matter was adjourned to July 18 as the local facilities would have a difficult time keeping McArthur in custody throughout the weekend given his medical challenges. Dyck is scheduled to be sentenced on July 18 as well.