The victim in a late-night brawl in downtown Kamloops testified in provincial court on Tuesday that he played the peacekeeper through an evening of drinking marked by a series of angry yet unexplained confrontations.
Andrew Giddens, 20, testified at the outset of the trial of Colten DeFrias, who has pleaded not guilty to assault causing bodily harm. DeFrias, 21, is a TRU student and was a leading point scorer last season with the Kamloops Storm.
The pair got into a fight on Oct. 23, 2011, as downtown bars closed for the night. Giddens suffered a dislocated jaw, abrasions and the loss of his lower front teeth in the altercation.
Giddens, the first of four witnesses to testify against DeFrias, told Crown prosecutor Katie Bouchard that he had four or five drinks before going to Cactus Jack’s with a friend, Eric Pellizon. When they moved on to Rivers, a nightclub down the street, they encountered “some kind of drama happening,” with people yelling and signs of a fight brewing.
Giddens said DeFrias, who was an acquaintance, approached him and a friend, saying, “Hey, fags.” DeFrias walked away when Pellizon asked him why he’d called them that, he said.
When DeFrias and Pellizon confronted one another later on, Giddens tried to defuse the tension. DeFrias told Giddens not to touch him and again walked away.
In a third instance, when DeFrias’s girlfriend was spitting and yelling, Giddens said he attempted to calm the situation. He was rudely told to mind his own business, Giddens said.
As Giddens and another friend, Luke Poulliot, headed home after closing, they encountered a crowd of people in the parking lot next to the Kami Inn. DeFrias was yelling at someone on Victoria Street. Giddens said DeFrias approached him at that point.
“Dude, chill out,” he recalled saying during court testimony. He said he put his arms at his sides in non-combative gesture. “The next thing I know, his fist was two inches from my face and he punched me. I wasn’t really … expecting it.”
He said he was punched two or three times and had his hoodie pulled over his face. Poulliot came to his friend’s aid at that point. The fight stopped and police were called. DeFrias was later identified and arrested while Giddens spent the night in hospital.
DeFrias sat rigid in the front row of the courtroom, staring straight ahead throughout the testimony against him.
Ken Walker, DeFrias’ defence counsel, questioned how much Giddens had to drink that night and whether he had unwittingly provoked the accused. Giddens denied being overly drunk or acting stupidly.
Walker also questioned Giddens’ attempts at calming tensions, suggesting that his behaviour was not peaceful.
“I’m going to suggest to you that’s not true and that, at times, you were aggressive toward him,” Walker said.
The trial was expected to continue Wednesday.