VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A 20-year-old Surrey man who pleaded guilty to participating in last June’s Stanley Cup riot has been sentenced to one month in jail.
“This is crazy,” Emmanuel Alviar was overhead saying as a sheriff handcuffed him and led him away in Vancouver Provincial Court as family members looked on.
Alviar was also handed 16 months of probation, 150 hours of community service and ordered to write letters of apology to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Police Chief Jim Chu.
The Crown wanted the young man to serve four months in jail while the defence argued for a conditional sentence.
In his reasons for sentencing, Judge Reg Harris notes Alviar, who posed in front of a burning car, rocked another vehicle and threw a barricade at a window, did not have a criminal record, did come forward to police after someone saw his face on the VPD website, and did plead guilty to participating in a riot.
However, Harris says deterrence must be paramount.
“The need for substantial deterrence is borne out by the size of the riot, the duration of the riot, the harm caused by the riot and significantly, this is the second time that Vancouver has experienced a hockey associated riot,” he says, referring to the June 1994 smashup in the downtown core when the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“These factors show that there are a large group of persons who are prepared to be involved in a riot should the opportunity present itself. These persons need to be deterred,” Harris adds.
Alviar apologized to the court at an earlier sentencing hearing, saying he “lost his dignity.”
“[Alviar] didn’t think he was going to jail today, he didn’t,” says his lawyer, Gary Botting, who argued for no jail time.
“Basically that would give him the chance to make recompense in the community, whereas in jail, what can really happen,” Botting explains. “Too often we put people in jail, that’s the first the response. In this case, I think it’s appropriate. But in most cases, a long jail sentence like four months is not appropriate.”
Botting adds that Alviar is now a public example of the punishment for a rioter who didn’t have a criminal record before and the sentence may prompt other suspects not to come forward or plead guilty.
“It would seem that from the reasons that the judge [gave] it would now be unreasonable for any other judge to give less of a deterrence,” he says.
The Crown’s Samantha Holme says they’re satisfied with the one-month sentence. “It’s at the low end of the range, but it does send the message of denunciation and deterrence, which Judge Harris found to be the paramount sentencing conditions in this case,” she says.
Holme adds police continue to recommend charges to prosecutors.
“We continue to process them as expeditiously as we can. There are new charges being laid every week. Charges are against about 100 individuals before the court[s] currently.”
Vancouver Police arrested hundreds of people on June 15th, 2011, and tracked others through video ID, public appeals and their website.
Police have recommended close to 600 charges against 200 or so suspected rioters. So far, the Crown has approved 276 charges against 104 people.
Outcome will be considered for every riot case onwards: Expert
“This is the first decision of a person that is on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of what activities they took part in during the riot. He seems to have a good background, seems to be an out of character incident,” explains News1130 legal analyst Michael Shapray.
He thinks this outcome will be considered for every riot case onwards, adding that in this particular case, the judge said real jail is the appropriate sentence and will set the tone for other decisions.
“There are a lot of people caught up in this, who have no history with police, who are probably very fearful of going to jail,” says Shapray. “The fact that someone in this situation is being sent to jail, may very well deter people from pleading guilty.”
Shapray adds there are concerns this could add more work for the court system as more cases go to trial.
He claims it doesn’t rule out conditional sentences for those who had lower participation levels in the riot because this is not a hard precedent but rather something each judge will look at.