Former Campbell River junior hockey team owner convicted of assaulting coach

Acquitted of two charges of uttering threats

The former co-owner of the Campbell River Storm was found guilty of assault in Campbell River Provincial Court Wednesday.

Kevin Ronald Spooner was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm arising out of an altercation on Dec. 12, 2015 with the coach and general manager of the Storm, Lee Stone. Judge Catherine Crockett acquitted Spooner on two additional charges of uttering threats.

The charges arose after a Spooner Construction Christmas party held at the Chances Playtime Gaming Casino that night. During the trial, the court heard evidence about acrimony between Spooner and his then-estranged wife Linda at the party. Evidence was given of harsh words, accusations and verbal altercations giving rise to the charges of uttering threats.

The court also heard evidence that Spooner left the party around 10 p.m. in an agitated state and went to Stone’s residence, a house provided to him by the Spooners as a condition of his employment. It was there that he got into a physical altercation with Stone, resulting in injuries to Stone and attendance by police.

Judge Crockett had to weigh the credibility of the witnesses’ testimony and determine which version of the events of the night were beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge, in her reasons for judgement, said that Linda testified that Kevin was in an agitated state but not all the witnesses heard everything that was said at the Christmas party with regard to Kevin’s state of mind and therefore could not corroborate Linda’s testimony.

The judge did give a lot of credence to the evidence given by Storm Assistant Coach Andy Seppanen who testified that Kevin swore at him and began counting down after telling Seppanen to leave the casino. The judge said Seppanen was in a position to see and hear Kevin make those statements which illustrated Kevin’s agitated state.

“This provides some evidence of the emotional state of Mr. Spooner that evening,” the judge said.

The judge found that Kevin was also angry at Stone because he believed that he was having a relationship with Linda and this was tied up with his feelings that he was being shut out of the running of the hockey team.

“He exhibited a possessive interest in what he repeatedly referred to as ‘my hockey team,’” the judge said.

He left the party with the intention of firing Stone as coach and general manager and evicting him from Stone’s residence.

“He was in an upset state when he went to Mr. Stone’s residence,” the judge said. “While I cannot say whether or not he intended to assault Mr. Stone prior to arriving at the house, I do accept Mr. Stone’s evidence as to what occurred once he arrived.

“Mr. Stone had no quarrel with Mr. Spooner. He was taken by surprise.”

The evidence was clear that Kevin had said upon his arrival at the house that this was Stone’s eviction notice.

“He was walking towards Mr. Stone on his property when he said it. Mr. Spooner was clearly the aggressor in the situation.”

Stone escaped the scene and went to an Esso gas station across the street to call 911. His injuries were consistent with what he said happened, the judge said.

“He defended himself from Mr. Spooner’s blows by holding his forearms in front of his face after he was first hit.”

Kevin had testified that he was acting in self defence but the judge said Kevin had walked towards conflict rather than away from it.

“The evidence points to Mr. Spooner having animosity towards Mr. Stone, making a deliberate decision to go to his residence that night and to advance towards an altercation not once, but twice.”

The judge said Kevin’s testimony attempted to paint himself in a positive light but contained inconsistencies like saying that his alienation from the Storm did not bother him but his overall testimony made it clear that this was a contentious point. He portrayed himself as not being overly upset at the party yet he decided to fire and evict Stone after a party at 10 p.m.

He also attempted to portray Stone as the aggressor, yet had no explanation as to why he would pursue Stone back up the driveway to his house. The judge contrasted this action with Stone’s, who escaped the situation at the earliest opportunity.

The judge said Stone’s version of events was logical and he testified in a careful and non-contradictory way.

“On the whole of the evidence, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Spooner is guilty of assaulting Mr. Stone and causing bodily harm to him. Therefore I convict Mr. Spooner on Count 1.”

On the threats charges, Judge Crockett said she weighed the evidence of all the witnesses but could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt that threats were uttered.

“Based on the evidence before me, I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Spooner is guilty of threatening death or bodily harm to Ms. Spooner or Mr. Stone,” the judge said. “He may have done so, but the evidence does not meet the standard required, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. That standard is a high one.”

Kevin Spooner will be in court again on April 24 to set a date for a sentencing hearing.

The Campbell River Storm hockey club, meanwhile, issued a statement Wednesday clarifying the ownership situation with the team which pointed out that Kevin is no longer an owner and that it is now under the ownership of his ex-wife, Linda, who now goes by the last name of Lahtinen.

“In the light of the recent news about Kevin Spooner, a former owner of the Campbell River Storm, we want to ensure our city, fans, volunteers and everyone involved with the club that we are already looking forward to a successful 2017-2018 season under the ownership of Linda Lahtinen,” the team statement says. “We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the Brindy next season!”