UPDATED: 3:14 p.m.
What happened during the 13 seconds a twice-convicted killer was outside a Penticton strip club with a man who later died from head injuries has finally come to light.
Michael Richard Beauchamp, 43, pleaded guilty this week to the manslaughter death of 53-year-old Terrence Dale Wooley, who was found unconscious outside Slack Alice’s Show Pub on April 24, 2009, and died a month later.
Beauchamp had been scheduled to go to trial this week on a charge of second-degree murder, but instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
On Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton, a judge went along with a joint submission from Crown and defence and sentenced Beauchamp to 12 years in jail with five years’ credit for time served. He can apply for early release after serving one-third of the new time.
“It’s not that long. He’ll get out and do it to somebody else,” the victim’s brother, Vern, said outside court.
According to the agreed statement of facts, read out by Crown counsel John Swanson, surveillance cameras at Slack Alice’s, which was destroyed by fire in 2012, recorded Wooley arriving at the bar around 11:44 p.m. He ordered a double-whisky, argued with the bartender about the price, then quickly downed the drink and slammed the glass onto the bar. The glass shattered and shards landed on nearby patrons and in an ice bin.
A bouncer ran over to Wooley, punched him once in the head and took him down to the floor, at which point the cameras lost sight of the victim.
A camera did record a second bouncer joining the fray and “making a stomping motion in the area where Mr. Wooley is lying on the ground,” Swanson said, but the staffer denied to police that he “kicked or stomped” the victim.
The second bouncer then dragged Wooley by his shirt collar across the floor of the bar and out a back door, then re-entered the club a few seconds later.
Shortly after Wooley was deposited outside, Beauchamp disappeared out the same door, then returned inside just 13 seconds later.
A waitress went out to help the unconscious Wooley and told police he was bleeding from his ears, and his head was covered in blood. An ambulance arrived soon after to take him to hospital. He never regained consciousness and died a month later in a hospice house.
An autopsy found he died from pneumonia that resulted from a “compromised respiratory system from head injuries,” Swanson said.
In the months that followed, Mounties organized a Mr. Big undercover sting to elicit a confession from Beauchamp. The court didn’t hear details of the operation, but the RCMP typically convince a target that Mr. Big, an undercover officer, is actually a crime boss who can make the suspect’s legal problems go away once he confesses details of past crimes.
Swanson said Beauchamp told Mr. Big that he kicked Wooley in the head outside Slack Alice’s and that the victim’s “head had smashed against a power pole.”
A neurologist who examined Wooley concluded only that he had been struck by at least two blows, resulting in a skull fracture. Swanson said there remains a reasonable doubt about whether Beauchamp’s kick ultimately led to Wooley’s death.
The Crown counsellor said outside court that Mounties interviewed bar staff, but found they acted appropriately given they had to ensure other patrons’ safety, so police didn’t recommend charges.
Defence counsel Robert Claus told the court his client admitted Wooley’s death was “an unintended consequence of a violent act that commenced with others and concluded with the involvement of Mr. Beauchamp.”
Claus said Beauchamp, who has two kids and worked last as a tattoo artist, “viewed himself as a friend of the bar staff,” and his actions were an attempt to help them.
The court heard that both Beauchamp and Wooley were drunk on the night in question and that the 31 prior convictions on Beauchamp’s criminal record are all related to substance abuse.
Given a chance to address the court Friday, Beauchamp told the judge, “I don’t wish to say anything right now.” He also avoided eye contact with eight members of Wooley’s family who were seated in the gallery.
In her reasons for sentence, Justice Jeanne Watchuk said she considered Beauchamp’s criminal record and Wooley’s defenceless state at the time of the kick to be aggravating factors. She counted as mitigating factors both Beauchamp’s guilty plea, which spared five weeks of court time for a case that involved complex legal and medical issues, and the accused’s intoxication the night of the crime.
Watchuk also noted that Beauchamp’s 2002 conviction in Ontario for manslaughter, for which he received a 10 years for killing an-ex girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter, meant his latest required a “step up” to 12 years.
He was also handed concurrent two-year sentences on five counts of assault and uttering threats against the woman with whom he was living in Penticton prior to his arrest in March 2010.
POSTED: 12:26 p.m.
A vicious assault outside a Penticton strip bar has netted a 12-year jail term for one of the attackers, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Michael Richard Beauchamp, 43, was sentenced Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton for his part in a April 2009 assault on 51-year-old Terrence Dale Wooley.
Wooley died a month later due to complications from the head injury he suffered at Slack Alice’s Show Pub.
Court heard that Wooley smashed a glass inside the bar, was then struck by two bouncers and dragged outside, where Beauchamp then kicked the victim in the head.
Police elicited a confession from Beauchamp through a Mr. Big undercover operation. Bar staff were not charged.
Beauchamp was given credit for five years’ time served, and has seven years remaining on his sentence. It marks his second conviction for manslaughter.
Slack Alice’s was destroyed in a 2012 fire.
More to come.