Gregory Brotherston has been sentenced to three years in prison for manslaughter in the death of a Colwood man who intervened in a fight outside the Country Rose pub in October.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron McKinnon noted that Richard Green, known as a kind and caring man, died protecting someone he felt needed protection.
Green, 57, who had served in the military for 25 years, including stints as a peacekeeper, was always concerned for the safety and well-being of his friends, said McKinnon. On the night of Oct. 8, he intervened in a fight between Brotherston and his ex-girlfriend, Kelly Sousa, even though he didn’t know her.
Brotherston, 31, son of former Highland councillors Ken and Marie Brotherston, struck Green with a single, open-handed blow to the face. Green fell backward, striking his head on the pavement and fracturing his skull. He died on Oct. 14.
Although defence lawyer Richard Neary said the blow was not a punch and caused no facial damage, it was not a gentle tap, McKinnon found.
“It was a blow delivered by an angry offender of sufficient force to either stun Mr. Green or render him unconscious,” he said.
The judge noted that Brotherston showed remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to manslaughter within two months of Green’s death.
However, McKinnon said he was struck by the failure of 22 letters of support filed by family, friends and business associates to comment on Brotherston’s criminal record.
“Some no doubt would not be aware of it, but others, particularly the family members, must know about his record but chose to ignore it or excuse it when casting his character in the glowing terms that they have,” said McKinnon.
The judge was particularly skeptical of a letter from Brotherston’s father, who described the event as a tragic accident.
“It was no such thing — it was a criminal assault that caused a death,” said McKinnon. “I understand the desire of a parent to portray a child in the best possible light, but to portray what occurred here as a tragic accident suggests willful blindness.”
Outside court, Green’s 23-year-old son Kevin sported a jersey and baseball cap of his father’s favourite football team, the Green Bay Packers. Green said he thought the sentence was light, but he was pleased Brotherston will serve time in a federal prison.
As she left the courthouse in the chilling rain, Marie Brotherston said she hoped the Green family will heal.
“I never imagined this would happen,” she said, crying.
She said she hoped her son will take advantage of everything the system has to offer while in prison and that he will remain positive. “I hope he can be a much better man.”
Ken Brotherston said he still sees Green’s death as a tragedy that could happen to anyone — something to think about the next time “we push someone or slap our kids.”
“Let’s just try to be a little less aggressive, because terrible things will happen,” he said.
Neary said his client never imagined that what he did could have such tragic consequences. “At the same time, he has always made it clear that he was not going to try to justify or excuse his actions,” he said.
Brotherston has no plans to appeal, Neary said.
The Crown had sought a sentence of more than four years, while the defence had asked for a provincial sentence of one to two years less a day.
© Copyright 2013