Two men who tried to collect money owed with a hockey stick and a shovel handle are to serve 90-day intermittent jail sentences, followed by one year’s probation.
Rodney Hockley, 37, and Rohan Thomas, 34, were convicted last year of break and enter and assault causing bodily harm to a Sooke man.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Keith Bracken heard that the two men were contractors, working on a kitchen renovation, who entrusted $3,000 to Steve Kovic to buy materials for the renovation. In September 2009, when Kovic did not buy the materials or return the money, they went to his home in Sooke to collect the money.
“One had a shaft of a hockey stick. The other had a portion of a shovel handle,” Bracken said. “Both were wearing gloves. They entered through the locked front door, and went to where Mr. Kovic was lying naked on his bed and demanded he pay them what he owed.”
When Kovic refused, they struck him with the sticks.
Unknown to Thomas and Hockley, Kovic’s son was in the house. When he heard the commotion, he went to his father’s bedroom and saw strangers attacking him. He called the police, who arrested Hockley and Thomas at the scene without difficulty.
Kovic was bruised and had cuts to his head, which bled profusely. He was treated at hospital, but his injuries were not serious, Bracken said. Kovic filed a victim-impact statement with the court, claiming both physical and psychological effects arising from the attack. He moved to Calgary shortly after the incident.
Crown prosecutor Susan Rupertus called the unlawful entry into an occupied dwelling a serious offence and asked Bracken to impose a 31Ú2-year sentence.
Defence lawyers Jeremy Mills and Tim Russell emphasized that neither man had a criminal record, both have been on bail for three years without incident and that the offence was out of character for both men.
They asked for suspended sentences, arguing that a prison sentence would cause both men to lose their jobs and cause hardship to their families.
Court heard that Hockley and his partner are expecting a child. Hockley has maintained steady employment for several years and is the manager of a local small business.
Thomas operates his own business and is active in the community. Both men have good support networks and have been law-abiding and productive. The judge also received positive pre-sentence reports on both men.
The sentencing dilemma was to balance the seriousness of the offence with the fact that the two accused are productive citizens with no prior criminal history, Bracken said.
“I think it likely they gave it little or no thought when they embarked on the course of action that led to their convictions,” he said.
Neither of these men followed a criminal lifestyle, noted Bracken. Both were employed and felt they had good reason to collect their money. They made no attempt to disguise themselves or to flee from police that night.
And although Kovic’s injuries looked serious, it’s not clear whether stitches were required, said Bracken.
In the end, Bracken imposed the 90-day intermittent sentence followed by one year of probation.
“The sentence must recognize the offence is a serious one, and requires a jail sentence of some kind to emphasize to them and others the gravity of entering an occupied dwelling to commit an offence,” he said.
Both men have to give a sample of their DNA and both have a lifetime ban on owning firearms.
The Crown is considering whether to appeal the sentence.
© Copyright 2013