Hockey coach who tripped player had drinking problem
A hockey coach who pled guilty on Tuesday to tripping a 13-year-old Richmond boy made another appearance in court on Thursday, seeking to vary the terms of his intermittent prison sentence.
Martin Tremblay, 49, is seeking to begin serving his sentence a few weeks down the road, but a decision on that application is not expected until Monday at the earliest.
Tremblay, who tripped the Richmond boy during a post-game handshake following a minor hockey championship game at the University of B.C. in June of 2012, was been sentenced to 15 days in prison.
He appeared in Richmond provincial court on Tuesday afternoon, where he also received a one-year term of probation. A DNA application by the Crown was denied by Judge Patrick Chen.
“Society will not tolerate the assault of children by adults,” Chen said in his decision on Tuesday.
The jail term surprised both Crown Counsel Gerri-Lyn Nelson and defence counsel Bob Bellows.
Bellows told the court that Tremblay had been taking anti-depressants for about nine years, but three weeks prior to the assault, had failed to renew his prescription.
In the days and weeks prior to the assault on the boy, he’d been under more stress relating to his construction work.
Without the medication, Bellows said that affected Tremblay’s ability to deal with anxiety, stress and tension.
Tremblay’s doctor, Dr. Will Johston, wrote in a letter that given Tremblay’s fragile emotional state, it was “more likely than not” that the failure to take the medication was a “major contributing factor” to what transpired that day.
Bellows filed 10 letters of support for Tremblay, including his ex-wife and neighbour, among others, and described the incident as a “one-off.”
Another assault involving Tremblay occurred almost precisely a year earlier, in June of 2011, when Tremblay had been drinking, and involved his employer, Bellows said.
Tremblay has an alcohol problem, Bellows said, and has been a member of Alcoholic Anonymous for a long time.
Tremblay entered a surprise guilty plea during an appearance in court late in November.
His lawyer, Robert Bellows, said at the time that his client was remorseful.
“He feels horrible about what occurred and he’s written a since letter of apology to the two boys which was given to the prosecutor today,” Bellows said in November. “He’s hoping they will forgive him at some point.”
The tripping incident occurred following the game, during the traditional handshake ceremony. The incident was captured on videotape and has since been viewed by millions of people around the world.
In the video, which was posted to YouTube, the coach is seen lining up to shake hands, and then sticking out his foot and tripping two of the opposing team’s players, sending them tumbling to the ice. One of the players broke his wrist during the fall.
Afterward, he pointed his finger at the taller of two players who fell.
Richmond Steel volunteer team manager Tammy Hohlweg said the coach had been “point and yelling at the taller boy” prior to the trip, and appeared to be targetting him alone, with the second smaller player being caught up in what happened.
Tremblay was arrested and handcuffed by Mounties, who arrived about 15 minutes after the incident.