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Killers lose their appeal

The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld manslaughter convictions against two Campbell River men who beat and kicked another man to death.

On Tuesday, the court ruled against Tyler Pastuck, 26, and Derek Crowther, 23, who were convicted in December 2011 in the death of Christopher Smythe, a 28-year-old fish farmer.

“The trial judge made no error in her analysis of the arrests or her analysis of whether to exclude evidence under. The trial judge’s verdict is reasonable and supported by the evidence,” wrote Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the appellant court.

A third man, Jacob Lawrence, 20, was charged in connection with Smythe’s death, but he was killed in a June 2011 motorbike accident.

On Feb. 27, 2010, Smythe attended a house party at a Rockland Road townhouse which Pastuck was renting.

In the early morning hours, neighbours called police after seeing a man being dragged by his ankles and then being “stomped on” by two or three other men.

RCMP arrived within minutes of of the call and found Smythe behind the complex, still alive, but badly beaten. He died three days later from blunt force head injuries.

Constable Rob Munroe then spotted Crowther and other party goers standing at an open townhouse window. The Mountie recognized Crowther from past dealings and told him to go to the front door so the officer could speak to him.

But Crowther didn’t respond and shut the window. Const. Munroe surmised that Crowther was involved in the assault and moved quickly to the entrance. He then kicked in the front door and, with gun drawn, went upstairs where the partiers had congregated.

Crowther was found hiding under a mattress while Pastuck was found hiding in a closet. Both were covered in mud – it was wet outside – and blood found on both of them was later identified, through DNA analysis, to have belonged to the victim.

“The trial judge did not base her decision on identity on the description of the parties in the backyard,” wrote Justice Bennett. “She based her decision primarily on the fact that Mr. Crowther and Mr. Pastuck were covered in Mr. Smythe’s blood.”

In January 2012, Pastuck was sentenced to seven years in a federal prison while Crowther received a six-year term. However, their sentences were both reduced by 27 months due to time already served behind bars.

You can read the entire judgement here.

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