Greg Brotherston apologized in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday for the death of Richard Green.
Brotherston stood in the prisoner’s dock and looked directly at Green’s son, Kevin Green, as he made his statement.
“I’d like to say to Mr. Green and all his loved ones, I could never imagine this happening,” Brotherston said, his voice breaking. “I am so stricken, and I am so sorry for this.”
Last month, the 31-year-old son of former Highland councillors Ken Brotherston Sr. and Marie Brotherston pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with Green’s death.
The 57-year-old Colwood man was injured after he intervened in a fight between Brotherston and his ex-girlfriend, Kelly Sousa, outside the Country Rose pub on Oct. 8.
Brotherston assaulted Green with a single, open-handed blow that hit his face, cheek and ear.
Green was unable to catch himself and fell backward, striking his head on the pavement and fracturing his skull. He died Oct. 14.
On Monday, prosecutor Laureen Nowlan-Card argued that Brotherston should be sentenced to more than four years in prison because of his violent past, which includes convictions for assault causing bodily harm and break and enter.
Defence lawyer Richard Neary asked Justice Ron McKinnon to impose a sentence of one to two years less a day.
“There’s no other case in Canada where an open-handed blow has turned into a manslaughter case,” Neary said.
McKinnon will deliver his decision this morning.
Admissions of fact read into the court record show Sousa met Brotherston at the pub. They argued and she slapped Brotherston across the face, breaking a glass on the table. Sousa walked out of the pub, followed by Brotherston.
Their fight continued in the parking lot. Sousa and Brotherston yelled at each other. She repeatedly slapped and punched him in the face. At no point did Brotherston push or strike Sousa.
According to the admissions, Brotherston grabbed her by the sweater, preventing her from walking away. Sousa lost her footing and fell to the ground. When she tried to walk away, Brotherston grabbed her again.
Green had seen the fight and followed them outside. According to the admissions, Brotherston told Sousa he was going to call the police and charge her with assault.
He called out to Green and his friend Denis Desjardins to act as witnesses, but Green responded, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. All I saw was her on the ground.”
Green told Brotherston to get in his car and leave, then motioned to Sousa to walk toward him. She did, but Brotherston followed. He screamed at Green and struck him. Green fell to the ground.
Brotherston dropped beside Green and said: “Oh my God, I’m sorry, sir. Please be OK.”
Brotherston’s early guilty plea and immediate remorse are mitigating factors and should be taken into consideration, Neary said. He asked McKinnon to consider that when Brotherston lost his temper, he was being assaulted by Sousa.
“It makes it understandable, if not excusable,” Neary said.
The open-handed blow was delivered in the heat of the moment, he said. And although both Desjardins and Sousa believe Green was knocked unconscious on his feet, that cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Medical evidence shows there was no fracture or bruising of Green’s face.
“It’s difficult to know what the degree of force was,” Neary said.
Green also told police he had seven beers that night, the lawyer said. It’s difficult to tell whether alcohol contributed to the manner in which he fell.
Brotherston has a lot of support in the community and offers of employment upon his release, Neary said.
“People close to him say he is absolutely racked with guilt and regret for what he has done to the Green family,” the defence lawyer said.
Neary admitted Brotherston has a serious criminal record, some of which relates to his struggle with substance abuse.
“He is seeking a clean and healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Brotherston has taken a number of programs at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre.
Outside court Tuesday, Ken Brotherston Sr. called it a tragic set of circumstances.
“Our hearts go out to the Green family,” Marie Brotherston said.
© Copyright 2013