A former junior hockey star testified Wednesday he knew from his experience on the ice he was facing a willing combatant on a Victoria Street sidewalk.
Colten DeFrias, 21, is on trial for assault causing bodily harm in wake of a brawl on Victoria Street in the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 2011. B.C. provincial court heard that DeFrias and several teammates hit downtown bars following a home game.
A number of witnesses said the young hockey player — now a Thompson Rivers University student who plays on the university team — punched Andrew Giddens, 20, twice in the face, knocking out two lower front teeth and dislocating his jaw.
During cross-examination, DeFrias told Crown prosecutor Katie Holmes that Giddens was ready to fight. She asked him if Giddens’s arms were at his sides, with his palms open when DeFrias confronted him. The two were in different groups that earlier had had verbal confrontations.
The fight occurred on the sidewalk as downtown clubs and bars closed for the night.
“You said, ‘It looked like he was ready for a fight,’” Bouchard told DeFrias, who testified in his own defence.
“I’ve been in positions like that in hockey,” DeFrias responded. “I know when someone is ready to fight.”
Last year’s high-scorer for Kamloops Storm junior B hockey club said Giddens’s eyes were “wide” and he had his feet planted, as if ready to brawl.
“He didn’t back away,” DeFrias said. “It looked like the fight was on.”
Giddens testified Tuesday he tried to calm DeFrias, telling him “dude, chill out.” He got away one swing, after DeFrias’s first punch to his face.
During arguments at the close of the trial, defence lawyer Ken Walker told provincial court judge Chris Cleaveley that DeFrias was coming to the defence of his girlfriend, Maggie Martin. Both he, Martin and another former Storm player there that night, Brody Moen, testified Giddens pushed her on the shoulders when she yelled at him to leave them alone.
“Andrew pushed Maggie with two hands above the shoulders,” DeFrias said.
Walker told Cleaveley the push caused DeFrias to come to Martin’s aid. He was being calmed by Moen at the time after an earlier argument with another man inside the bar.
“He tried to fight me off and I let him go,” said Moen of DeFrias’s move toward Giddens. “He stormed over there.”
Walker said the response was to protect his girlfriend.
“If you believe Mr. DeFrias acted in response to protect his girlfriend, it’s defence of a third party . . . and he should be acquitted,” said the defence lawyer.
That applies, Walker said, even if DeFrias was mistaken in the belief she needed his help.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Bouchard noted several male friends, including two Storm players, were nearby Martin at the time.
“You didn’t need to protect your girlfriend, did you? How many of your friends were there? Andrew Giddens is standing there, not moving. She didn’t need protection. Were you just going there to attack him because he pushed your girlfriend?”
Bouchard said the punches from DeFrias were “clearly excessive.”
DeFrias, dressed in a suit, sat impassively in the front row for the trial.
The only emotion he showed near the end, when Bouchard said he didn’t need to defend himself from Giddens, whom she argued was in a “classically submissive gesture.” He briefly put out his hands as if frustrated and pleading — the kind of gesture a hockey player might make to a referee to protest a call.
Cleaveley reserved judgment to a later date.