A defence lawyer portrayed a victim who says he was blindsided by a neighbour’s sucker punch as a scrapper with a long criminal record.
“You’re a fighter, aren’t you?” Jeremy Jensen asked Michael Ward, who testified Tuesday he’d been punched in the back of the head by Tadas Rimdzius, his neighbour at a Clinton trailer park.
Ward ended up on the Cariboo highway, where he was found lying in a heap by an oncoming trucker.
Ward and Rimdzius had been drinking at the Cariboo Lodge the evening of Oct. 26, 2011. Rimdzius, 65, is charged with aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.
“You’re a fighter — you don’t back down?” Jensen asked again.
Ward, 52, acknowledged his past reputation.
“I used to when I was young,” he replied.
Ward also acknowledged his criminal record, gathered over 30 years and outlined by Jensen for the 12-person jury, including break and entering with intent, obstructing a police officer, possession of a controlled substance, robbery, assault with a weapon and assault in 2006, for which he received 23 days in jail.
Jensen also noted Ward was serving a conditional sentence for possession of stolen property the night he was assaulted. A condition of that sentence included that he not consume alcohol or be out past 10 p.m.
“You agree with me, sir, you were breaking your conditional sentence order?”
“I see that now, yes,” Ward replied.
Ward said he suffered hernias and perforated ulcers, conditions that have made him unemployable and the recipient of a disability payment from the province. Those maladies also left him unable to fight like he used to, he testified.
After about an hour of cross-examination by Jensen, Ward appeared flustered, blurting out, “My God man, who’s on trial here?”
Earlier Tuesday, Ward told the court he’d met Rimdzius on the way to the Cariboo Lodge, where they each had a few pints of beer and played pool. He said the socializing was generally happy, but they exchanged a few angry words.
Ward called Rimdzius’s girlfriend a “mooch” due to her unpaid debts, while Rimdzius called Ward’s girlfriend a “drunken pig.”
Despite those words, Ward said he was unconcerned when he left the bar en route to a store to pick up cigarettes and then walk home.
As he turned to look both ways to cross the Cariboo highway through Clinton, he testified he saw Rimdzius’s face, then was struck by a blow to the back of his head as he stepped off the curb.
“I know it was him who did it. He’s my next-door neighbour.”
Ward was hospitalized overnight after the assault. He said in the following days one eye was completely swollen shut and he suffered severe headaches.
The B.C. Supreme Court trial is scheduled to continue until Friday.