An Osoyoos teen accused of stabbing a 33-year-old man outside of a house party was found guilty of aggravated assault last week in Penticton court.
The teen, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was 16 at the time.
On Oct. 15, 2014 the teen was at a house party where attendees were between 15 and 19 years old. The stabbing victim, Phillip Webber, was intoxicated when he met the teen and his friends for the first time at the liquor store and decided to join the party.
Webber was described as “very drunk” by multiple witnesses during the trial in September, and was antagonizing those at the party. After a minor altercation, Webber and another guest at the party left to get cigarettes.
After some time had passed, the teen in question, who was also intoxicated at the time, left to search for his friend. The teen ran into Webber a short distance from the residence where a fight took place, ending with the stabbing of Webber.
Defence counsel James Pennington argued for self-defence during the trial.
“Calm and detached reflection is not required when a person is under attack,” said Judge Greg Koturbash during the reading of his decision in Penticton Provincial Court on Jan. 8. “Although there is no general duty at law to retreat from an unprovoked assault, there is no explicit retreat rule in Canada, like those that exist in Florida or other states.”
“In Canada, the availability to retreat remains a factor that can be considered in assessing the reasonableness in the accused’s actions.”
The teen testified that Webber was eight to 10 feet away with both his hands at his sides prior to the stabbing. However, Webber was approaching and telling the teen to stab him according to testimony at trial.
“When (the teen) was asked why he never ran, he said that he did not know why. He testified that given Mr. Webber’s highly intoxicated state, he could have easily done so,” Koturbash said.
The teen said at trial that due to his intoxicated state he didn’t consider it as an option.
“The option of retreating for (the teen) was enhanced by the presence of (the teen’s) friends and Mr. Webber’s high degree of intoxication,” Koturbash said. “There was nothing in the way of (the teen) simply running.”
Koturbash noted the residence where the party was being held, a safe refuge, was nearby as well. Koturbash said the teen was given a knife by a friend at the party prior to leaving and did not refuse it or say that he didn’t need it.
A pre-sentence report was ordered, as well as psychological and psychiatric assessments, which take approximately eight weeks.