Our client and his friend were recent high school graduates in their first year of college studies. Our client was studying to be an airplane mechanic and his friend was studying to be a pilot. They were both soccer players, frequently playing and practicing at soccer fields around Ottawa, including at an east-end high school. On a Friday afternoon after finishing morning classes, they traveled to that high school in order to ask a gym teacher whether an upcoming soccer tournament was open to college students and then to wait for a practice on the field that evening. Our client had a screwdriver and piece of sheet metal in his backpack as part of his studies. Although high school classes were still running, they went inside the school to wait to speak to a gym teacher. Inside, a high school student accosted them, leading to a verbal dispute with some shoving. Our client and his friend left the school and waited at the edge of the property, still wanting to talk to the gym teacher and practice afterwards.
When the student saw them waiting, he gathered four friends and came out to challenge our client and his friend to a fight. First, our client tried to talk it out. Then, our client bluffed a phone call to get friends to join him, since they were outnumbered. Eventually, our client and his friend pulled out the screwdriver and sheet metal to scare the students away. As they were walking away, one of the students, who was approximately one-hundred pounds heavier than our client, punched our client in the head, knocking him to the ground. Our client's friend stepped in to defend him, striking the heavyset student in the back of his head with the butt-end of the sheet metal. Three other students pounced on our client's friend, knocking him to the ground in the middle of the street, kicking him. Our client stood up, now dazed from the punch - instinctively, he ran to his friend's aid and stabbed one of the students. The screwdriver penetrated the student's skull and went into his brain, causing life-threatening and life-changing injuries. Still afraid, our client and his friend ran from the scene. A week later, they were arrested.
The complainants and investigators saw things differently. According to them, two adult men walked into a high school, started a fight with a student, waited outside with weapons, and tried to kill one of his friends. They knew nothing about our client's college tools, their purpose in attending the school, or their reason for staying outside. Out client was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, three counts of assault with a weapon, and possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public. From the outset, our client maintained that he acted in self-defence and to defend his friend.
In the lead-up to the trial, the prosecution agreed to drop the attempted murder and conspiracy charges. Eventually, they also dropped the possessing-weapons charge.
The matter initially went to a month-long jury trial. Defence counsel cross-examined the prosecution witnesses, including a medical doctor who agreed with our argument that blunt-force trauma to the head and body - like the kicks our client and his friend suffered during the fight - can be just as lethal as a stab to the head. Our client and his friend In the end, the jury acquitted our client's friend of all charges and acquitted our client of all his charges except the aggravated assault - the jury could not reach a verdict on that count, leading to a hung-jury and a mistrial on that count.
The matter was set down for a month-long re-trial on the charge of aggravated assault, this time without a jury. In the end, our client was completely acquitted. The judge found that our client reasonably believed that he and his friend were under attack, that he acted for the purpose of defending himself and his friend, and that his instinctive decision to stab one of the students was reasonable in all the circumstances.
RESULT: Our client was found not guilty of all charges.