Stanley Cup riot cost $3.7 million

20-year-old Coquitlam man will be first person sentenced for participating in Vancouver riot

The overall estimated damage caused by rioters during the Stanley Cup riot is $3.7 million, according to a Crown lawyer prosecuting a man for his role in last June's mayhem downtown.

The bulk of the damages was $2.7 million to businesses, including $900,000 to the Bay at West Georgia and Granville, which had its windows smashed out by rioters, said Crown prosecutor Patti Tomasson during Tuesday's sentencing hearing of Ryan Dickinson, 20, of Coquitlam.

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Tomasson said 70 employees and customers sought refuge on the Bay's seventh floor while loss prevention officers remained on the first floor in an attempt to stop the hundreds of people ransacking and looting the store.

Smoke from vehicles set ablaze outside the Bay filtered into the store, setting off the store's alarms. Tomasson said the 70 people on the seventh floor feared the building was on fire and began phoning loved ones.

A similar story unfolded at The Blenz coffee shop at 495 West Georgia, where the owner and four others in the store barricaded themselves in an office for four hours. They also thought the store was on fire, said Tomasson, adding that Blenz sustained $100,000 in damages and closed for two months for repairs.

"In the Crown's submission, the riot was akin to a home invasion of the whole community," she told the court.

Tomasson outlined these events in a sentencing hearing for Dickinson, the first person to plead guilty for participating in the riot. Vancouver Provincial Court Malcolm McLean is expected to deliver his sentence Thursday at 2 p.m.

Dickinson appeared in court Tuesday as 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 shows Dickinson attempting to flip an unmarked police car with others and tossing a mannequin and another newspaper box into a 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.

Tomasson recommended Dickinson be sentenced to a jail term between 15 and 18 months, and another one to three months for breaching a curfew imposed in an unrelated assault case.

Dickinson violated his curfew by going downtown to watch the Stanley Cup final game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins at the city's so-called live sites set up around the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

Tomasson said Dickinson could have returned home but chose to participate in the riot and "enjoyed what he was doing that evening." The day after the riot, Dickinson recounted his exploits with a friend on Facebook, saying he flipped a Smart car and cop car, the court heard.

Though Dickinson may not have been aware of the fear felt by those people trapped at the Bay and Blenz, Tomasson said the actions of one rioter are inextricably linked to all other rioters.

Lawyer Eric Warren, acting on behalf of Dickinson, recommended a sentence of one year in custody, along with treatment and therapy for his client's issues with anger. But he rejected Tomasson's suggestion that Dickinson was an instigator.

Warren read a note to the court penned by Dickinson in which he said, "I'm ashamed and deeply embarrassed. I was caught up in the moment. I made some very bad decisions that day."

The court heard Dickinson had previous convictions for assault and concealing a weapon related to two incidents as an adult and one as a juvenile. Tomasson said the previous convictions show a pattern of behaviour in which he "participates in mob criminality."

"Mr. Dickinson is an angry young man," Tomasson added.

Dickinson, who was dressed in a prison-issued red T-shirt, loose pants and white runners, has been in jail for 69 days. He is in custody because he breached his curfew from an assault case dating back to Sept. 15, 2010.

Dickinson will be the first person to be sentenced for participating in the riot.

In an earlier case, a Surrey man who was found with swimwear he stole from a downtown store during the night of the riot received an absolute discharge in Surrey Provincial Court.

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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