A Clinton man charged with assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault gasped with astonishment Wednesday on the witness stand when shown photos of his neighbour.
“I had no idea he looked like this,” Tadas Rimdzius said upon seeing photos of Ward in the aftermath of an altercation between the two.
“Oh my God, no,” he said, shaking his head. Moments later Rimdzius appeared to be dabbing tears out of his good eye.
The 65-year-old man testified in his defence, claiming he was protecting himself from his trailer park neigbour after they found themselves together beside the Cariboo highway in Clinton.
Ward testified Tuesday he was blindsided by a punch to the back of the head by Rimdzius, an attack without provocation that left him in a heap on the highway.
The two men earlier drank beer and played pool together at the Cariboo Lodge, where they got into a dispute. Ward left and Rimdzius said he left to go home soon after.
He said he approached Ward as they walked toward home beside the highway in order to clear the air about their earlier dispute.
“When I got two feet in front of him he started to scream at me.”
Then Rimdzius told a tale of a punch up between the two, as he tried to defend himself from attack. Both men have extensive criminal records.
Rimdzius has one eye, diabetes and a serious back condition. He told the jury the fight was up and down as the two grappled and flailed at one another.
“I knocked him down again. He was right back again at me.”
At that point, Rimdzius said he started “freaking out,” punching to get Ward off him as the younger man pushed his finger into his plastic eye.
“He didn’t poke out my plastic eye out but he put a lot of pressure on it, so it turned in another direction. When he poked my eye, I went ballistic.”
It was then that Ward “stumbled back, turned a pirouette and went face first into the curb.”
After Ward appeared to sit up, Rimdzius testified that he grasped around for his glasses and found them.
“When I put on those I was gone. I didn’t even look at Mr. Ward.”
Ward was found in the middle of the highway by a trucker who alerted police.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Bernie Caffaro focused on bad blood between the two men, who squabbled over debts and borrowed items.
He also questioned Rimdzius's elaborate stories.
"You aren't making this up as you go along, are you sir?"
The trial is expected to continue Thursday.