A Whiskey Creek man has been convicted of assaulting his neighbour after serving up an unusual Christmas punch.
Gabriel Stephen Nelson smashed a snow globe into Douglas Lanty’s cheek on Christmas Day 2016 after the two next-door neighbours in the community, about 15 kilometres west of Parksville, met in the driveway.
“The families are not on good terms,” Judge Ted Gouge noted in his July 10 judgment.
Nelson was also convicted of breaching the terms of his probation to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. He was sentenced to 30 days time served and placed on one year of probation.
On Christmas Day 2016, Lanty and his family walked from their house to the head of their driveway, intending to drive to a family gathering, Gouge’s judgment said. They walked single file on the narrow path, Lanty behind his wife, his son and his wife’s parents behind him.
As they approached their car, they saw Nelson standing in the driveway.
His car was parked behind theirs so they couldn’t back out.
Nelson made several sarcastic remarks, disparaging their Christmas spirit. Then he confronted Lanty’s wife.
At this point, Lanty stepped in front of his wife and told Nelson: “You need to leave now.”
Nelson struck Lanty on the cheek with a snow globe he had in his hand. A fight broke out and both men fell to the ground, punching each other.
Nelson, who is bigger and stronger, quickly gained the upper hand. But Lanty called out to his son to help him. Together they held Nelson down until police arrived, Gouge said.
“My glasses were smashed up. I had a mark on my face from that, but the gouge on my face from him trying to get at my eyeball, and my knees were completely raw and my elbows were raw, and my hands were all cut up from the pavement, I guess,” Lanty described his injuries to the court.
Nelson argued the fight was consensual.
But Lanty testified that Nelson took the first swing. “It was a snow globe and smashed my glasses off my face. He cold-cocked me with this snow globe,” he said.
In the rustic vernacular of Vancouver Island, to cold-cock someone is to strike them, usually in the head without prior warning, Gouge explained. It’s also referred to as a sucker punch.
Gouge found that before the blow with the snow globe, Lanty had no opportunity to consent to the fight. There was no challenge or invitation, by words or conduct, to which he could respond, he said.
“After the blow with the snow globe, Mr. Lanty had no opportunity to grant or withhold consent. He was urgently engaged defending himself from Mr. Nelson. I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this was not a consensual fight,” Gouge said.
The judge found Lanty’s injuries were not trivial: “Mr. Nelson is guilty of an assault because he intended to cause, and did cause, non-trivial injuries to Mr. Lanty.”
Gouge also convicted Nelson of breach of probation. “I think that any ordinary citizen would recognize a fist fight, consensual or not, as both a breach of the peace and bad behaviour.”