Investigating officer didn’t do a complete job, Skanes says
A man who brutally beat another man at a downtown bar in St. John’s has been convicted, but the judge made it clear that it was no thanks to police.
In handing down her guilty verdict in the case of Robert Crant, provincial court Judge Lois Skanes criticized the RNC officer’s less-than-impressive work in investigating the case.
“I will say that the police investigation of the incident left a great deal to be desired,” Skanes stated in her written decision.
Crant was convicted of assault causing bodily harm following an incident that happened in the early morning hours of Feb. 2 of this year outside Lottie’s Place on George Street.
According to witnesses who testified at the trial last month, when Crant walked into the bar sometime after midnight, he confronted the man, accusing him of touching his girlfriend inappropriately some months before at Memorial University’s Breezeway Bar.
A scuffle broke out and Lottie’s bouncers quickly contained Crant and removed him from the bar.
Minutes later, the man went outside the bar to ask Crant why he was upset and to try and straighten out the situation.
However, that’s when Crant attacked the man, punching him in the face and head several times.
The man suffered a broken nose, a broken orbital bone, nerve damage resulting in lack of feeling in the upper right side teeth area, a cut to left his upper lip from tooth puncture and bruising to his jaw and to his arm.
He suffered severe pain for weeks after the incident, as well as doubled and blurred vision. As a result, he missed at least a week of classes at university.
While Crant’s lawyer, Kimberley Horwood, tried to argue her client believed the fight was consensual, Skanes said the evidence didn’t support that defence.
That was clear in a Facebook message Crant sent to the man sometime after the fight.
In the message, Crant wrote, “I know you were trying to calm me down and talk to me sensibly and I acted very immaturely and did not give you a chance.”
Skanes added that even if the fight had been consensual, the force Crant used was excessive, causing serious injuries.
“These injuries are well beyond trivial or transient and represent serious bodily harm even without the fractures being proven,” the judge said.
Crown prosecutor Dana Sullivan was able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, despite what the judge said were shortfalls in the police investigation.
Skanes pointed out that while the investigating officer met with the complainant on Feb. 2, he didn’t contact Crant until March 5 “to see if any injuries to the accused may have been apparent.”
As well, Skanes said the officer made no attempts to get video surveillance footage for the area of George Street where the incident occurred, nor did he question if there was any video inside of Lottie’s Place.
Other than one witness, the officer also didn’t interview any other witnesses, such as the bouncers or another man who was at the scene.
“It appears that the officer took a statement from Southall and had it signed before completing the witness identification portion of the form,” Skanes said.
“This came to light when the wrong name was noted to have been entered on a statement.
“These deficiencies result in there being less than as complete or accurate a picture of the occurrence as may have been available with a more thorough investigation.”
A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 7. The case will be called in court on Dec. 5 to confirm that date.
This story has been revised to correct typos.