Family members say Grant Ailles is just a shell of the man he once was.
Once a vibrant senior who played old-timers hockey three times a week, volunteered regularly in Penticton and was an avid stamp collector, Ailles now is confined to a wheelchair, has faced numerous surgeries and was left blinded by an attack in his Balfour Street home in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2008.
On Wednesday, Ailles, who also is known by his Air Force nickname of Sandy, was wheeled into the Penticton Supreme Court room by family to testify. Just a few feet away in shackles sat his alleged attacker, his own grandson Gregory Ailles.
The 38-year-old is accused of beating his grandfather with a metal rod, confining his grandparents by wrapping electrical cords around their wrists and robbing them of money, their vehicle and three shotguns. The incident has shaken the now 80-year-old grandfather’s life.
“Totally, he was involved playing international hockey and all of that stopped the day he was attacked,” said his cousin Doug Ailles. “It has changed the dynamics of the whole family. The whole family feels totally upset and a lot of stress.”
Both the cousin and son of Grant testified on Wednesday and spoke to the type of person he is. They said as a member of the Lions Club, Grant was instrumental in the creation of a one-of-kind retreat for those who have kidney disease. Camp Dorset is in Ontario, where the Ailles are originally from. Last year, a hockey club in Ontario created the Sandy Ailles Memorial Award to be presented to the most dedicated team each year in honour of the man’s own dedication to raising money for community charities.
The grandfather does not remember much of the alleged assault. He only recalls coming out of his stamp collecting room downstairs to see Greg shaking his grandmother. Grant said he saw a pipe in Greg’s hands and grabbed it and tossed it across the room.
“I said, ‘You beat me’ like in a competition. Why would you hit me anymore?” said Grant, who spent six months recovering in a Vancouver hospital.
The trial is expected to run until the end of next week, with about 16 witnesses being called by Crown counsel Bill Hilderman. The only other person to witness the alleged attack is the accused’s grandmother, Lois Diane Ailles, but she has since died from cancer. Justice Alison Beames said she would listen to audio and video recordings taken from the grandmother by police and hearsay evidence from Ailles family members who were with her during those recordings to decide later in the trial if they are admissible.
The initial audio statement taken by Penticton RCMP from the grandmother was played on Thursday. In it, the woman said her grandson had come just the week prior from Vancouver to stay at their house, after having not been there for five years.
She said that evening Gregory seemed restless as she was drifting asleep on a chair upstairs. She heard an argument downstairs between the two men and said she could hear slapping sounds and her husband calling for her. She went downstairs and said Gregory made her sit down while he struck his grandfather approximately 30 to 40 times with a metal pipe in his legs, head and chest. She said the grandson also kicked Grant in the groin and in the neck. The dried blood on her face in RCMP photos was evidence of the slaps she received from her grandson. She said the impacts knocked the glasses off her face.
“Greg was beating up grandpa, he said for the things grandpa did to him as a kid,” said Lois in the audio recording. “(Greg) has a condition, when he is on his meds he is fine, otherwise everyone is against him.”
Lois said her grandson was claiming “all kinds of things that didn’t happen,” such as she had got him drunk when Greg was just in Grade 2 and that she had sexually abused him. She said Greg also said a number of times that her husband was “a dead man” during the alleged attack. Lois later added she knew her grandson had been in jail for three years because of a gun incident previously and he would claim that he “owns the jail system, works for the RCMP, he fights terrorists.”
“He is so far off without his meds,” said Lois.
The grandmother said after the attack they were tied up with electrical cords around their wrists. Greg asked his grandfather for the car keys, and when he couldn’t reach them because his hands were tied, Lois said her grandson kicked him.
“I think he intended to beat him up to a crisp, blind him or leave him totally incapacitated,” said Lois.
The grandparents vehicle and shotguns were later discovered abandoned by RCMP in Lakeland. Greg was then arrested by RCMP in Vancouver a day after the alleged incident and has been in custody ever since.
Defence for the grandson, Paul McMurray, centred most of his questions to the family members about the younger years of the accused, who had spent short stints living with his grandparents in Ontario. McMurray questioned if the grandfather was known to give stern or physical punishment to his own children or to his grandson. Both Grant’s son and cousin testified they didn’t see or experience anything unusual, other than the odd spanking for not listening.
On cross-examination of the grandfather, McMurray asked if he had got into an argument with Greg the day before regarding money. The grandfather said he has no recollection of his grandson even being at the house the day of the incident or even the days leading up to it.
Ailles is facing a host of charges, including aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, two counts of unlawful confinement, assault causing bodily harm, robbery, theft over $5,000 and possession of a firearm contrary to order.