A 70-year-old disabled man who requires the use of a wheelchair has been banned from Quality Foods after assaulting a police officer.
Paul Stevenson told the judge he’s not “a rude person,” but when he’s under the influence of alcohol, the Campbell River senior reportedly disrupts staff and patrons at Quality Foods.
“He knows he’s not supposed to be hanging out around the front doorway,” said Crown prosecutor Bruce Goddard.
Stevenson was in Campbell River provincial court Tuesday for sentencing after being found guilty of assaulting an RCMP officer and mischief last October. According to Goddard, Stevenson was banned from the store, located in the Merecroft Village plaza, due to an alleged past incident, but continued to go there. On May 28, 2013, Campbell River RCMP were called after Stevenson showed up again.
This time a scuffle ensued in the parking lot and Stevenson struck an officer in the eye. Stevenson told Judge Roderick Sutton the officer was trying to handcuff his left hand, he was trying to resist and then his right hand came off the armrest of his wheelchair and hit the Mountie.
“I do apologize to the constable and I do see him here in court today,” said Stevenson, who defended his actions. “It was not assault. I did not purposely assault this gentleman, this police officer.”
But Goddard pointed out that explanation was never offered at trial when Stevenson was found guilty on the two charges. The prosecutor also referred to a pre-sentence report which spells out how Stevenson was repeatedly told he was not allowed in Quality Foods, but went anyway due to “feelings of entitlement.”
The report also indicated that Stevenson sees himself as the victim and that he maintains his innocence. Goddard also noted that Stevenson had no prior record for violence and the court had to consider his age and health. Stevenson has been in poor health since suffering a stroke. He lives near the hospital to be close for various medical treatments and gets around the city in a motorized wheelchair.
Defence lawyer Doug Marion argued that a jail sentence was not appropriate. The judge agreed, noting the assault was at the “lower end.” He gave Stevenson a suspended sentence and placed him on one year of probation. During that time, Stevenson cannot be within five metres of Quality Foods and must take counselling for substance abuse.