Police Chief Jim Chu says the 17-month jail sentence handed down Thursday to a 20-year-old Coquitlam man for participating in the Stanley Cup riot is “a victory for the victims and citizens” of Vancouver.
“We’re very happy that the judge treated the offence of rioting in a very serious manner and there’s been serious consequences imposed on the offender who committed the rioting, the carnage, the mayhem on the city’s streets,” Chu said at a press conference following Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Malcolm MacLean’s decision to sentence Ryan Dickinson to 16 months in prison for participating in the June 15 riot. “The courts have clearly held this person accountable for that crime.”
The judge also imposed an additional month in jail for Dickinson for violating his curfew on the night of the riot. The curfew was a condition of a bail order related to a previous assault conviction.
But MacLean took into account the time Dickinson already served in jail—he's been in custody since Dec. 8—and credited him three-and-a-half months for time served, reducing his overall sentence to 13-and-a-half months.
The judge also imposed a two-year probation order, which Dickinson must abide by when he is released from prison. Conditions include counselling or a training program as directed by his probation officer and to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
"This is a significant sentence but necessary to adequately address denunciation and deterrence without losing sight of the need to address Mr. Dickinson’s rehabilitation," MacLean said.
Dickinson was dressed in a prison-issued red long-sleeve shirt, loose pants and white runners and sat next to his lawyer, Eric Warren, in the courtroom. His mother and sister sat a few rows back. When the judge asked Dickinson if he had anything to say, he shook his head from side to side.
In a previous court appearance, Dickinson had his lawyer read a short note to the court in which he said he was ashamed and deeply embarrassed for his actions that night, and that he was "caught up in the moment."
"His behaviour does not reflect someone who simply got caught up in the moment," said MacLean, adding that Dickinson made a conscious and deliberate decision to participate in the riot. The judge also said Dickinson's actions encouraged others to participate in the destruction.
In court Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Patti Tomasson showed video and still photographs of Dickinson in the 700-block Nelson Street repeatedly throwing a newspaper box at an unmarked police car.
The footage also showed Dickinson attempting to flip an unmarked police car with others and tossing a mannequin and another newspaper box into an already destroyed Black and Lee tuxedo shop on Richards Street. Dickinson also used the leg of a street barricade to smash the rear driver's side window of a police car, Tomasson said.
The riot caused an estimated $3.7 million in damage, with $2.7 million of that to businesses, including $900,000 to the Bay department store at Georgia and Granville. Total damage to the two unmarked police cars was $20,359.
The judge said Dickinson appeared to be remorseful for the damage he caused and has agreed to pay some restitution to the City of Vancouver. The judge didn't elaborate on the nature of the restitution.
In referring to a pre-sentence report, MacLean said Dickinson grew up in an "unstable" and "dysfunctional" family, without any discipline. He began drinking alcohol at 12 years old and lost jobs because of his alcoholism.
But the court heard the only evidence Dickinson was drinking on the night of the riot is when he found "a mickey of alcohol" and drank "a mouthful."
“Mr. Dickinson has expressed a desire to change his life,” MacLean said. “That would certainly be in his interest and in the best interest of society. There is, of course, no guarantee but hopefully Mr. Dickinson will receive the help he needs to fulfill that commitment.”
Just before sheriff’s deputies escorted Dickinson from the courtroom, MacLean said, "Mr. Dickinson, good luck to you, sir.”
Though Dickinson agreed to provide some restitution to the City of Vancouver, the Crown did not seek restitution in sentencing. Outside the courthouse, Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie said a number of factors were considered in making the decision.
"One of them was the particular circumstance that Crown was looking for a lengthy custodial sentence in relation to Mr. Dickinson, and the other was that it's somewhat difficult to isolate particular amounts of restitution where there's been a large number of people causing damage," MacKenzie said.
Vancouver Police Department Insp. Les Yeo of the Integrated Riot Investigation Team and two other officers were in the courtroom to hear the judge's sentencing of Dickinson.
Meanwhile, the Crown approved another 11 charges Thursday against five suspected rioters for a total of 141 charges against 52 people.
Dickinson was the first person to be sentenced for participating in the riot. In an earlier case, a Surrey man received an absolute discharge after being found with stolen swimwear in Surrey from a store that was looted in Vancouver on the night of the riot.
The riot erupted downtown June 15, 2011 after the Vancouver Canucks lost the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena.
An estimated 155,000 people were in downtown the night of the game, with 55,000 crammed into the so-called live sites set up around the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library to watch the game on huge screens.