Guilty verdicts for three who attacked Stanley Cup riot Good Samaritan

Robert Mackay (centre, with two bystanders who helped on the night of the riot—Chris McClelland and Dean Seskin. - Darrel Seskin
Robert Mackay (centre, with two bystanders who helped on the night of the riot—Chris McClelland and Dean Seskin.
— image credit: Darrel Seskin

Three men have been found guilty of assaulting Stanley Cup riot hero Robert Mackay.

Mackay was the Good Samaritan who tried to single-handedly fend off a mob of rioters hell-bent on smashing the windows at The Bay during the Stanley Cup riot in Downtown Vancouver in June of 2011. He was attacked by more than a dozen people. Chris McClelland and Richmond's Dean Seskin, stepped in to save him during the riot.

Vancouver provincial court Judge Gregory Rideout ruled that Michael MacDonald, Carlos Barahona Villeda and David Leonati assaulted Mackay. Ioannis Kangles was acquitted.

At the time of the attack, Mackay was a sous chef at Tramonto restaurant at River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond.

Reached Tuesday, Mackay said he "was quite pleased with the verdicts."

But he's anxious to put the events of that night in his "rear view mirror and carry on."

He believes this was the last court case involving his assailants, as others have already pled guilty and been sentenced.

The riot occurred following the Game 7 loss by the Vancouver Canucks to the Boston Bruins, and included the burning of vehicles, smashing of windows and looting of stores.

MacDonald argued in his defence that he was defending himself and his girlfriend when he assaulted Mackay, who at that point had taken an aluminum pole previously used against him, and used it to push the crowd away from the windows at The Bay.

In finding MacDonald guilty, Judge Rideout wrote: "I find MacDonald abandoned his girlfriend in the crowd and pursued Mackay during the course of which, in a sustained and systematic way, he struck Mackay twelve times. Of those blows, seven were to the back of Mackay's head, two were blows to the upper shoulders and there were "three good shots" to Mackay's right lower back. I do not find these actions had anything to do with protecting any identifiable third party in need of protection."

Barahona claimed he didn't remember much about what happened on the night of the riot, and in fact "consistently maintained that he was unaware a riot was taking place in the core of the city after the game...He further testified that he had no idea that a riot had ever taken place until several months after the game when people phoned him telling him his face was on a flyer as a person of interest in relation to the riot," the court ruling states.

But video footage placed Barahona near Seymour Street, Granville and West Georgia, "in the midst of crowds of people, many of whom are damaging property and looting. Barahona can be seen taking photographs of what was taking place around him."

He claimed he was taking the photos as "evidence."

In finding Barahona guilty, Judge Rideout wrote: "It did not make sense that he was taking photographs for evidence purposes when he did not even know what was taking place around him on June 15, 2011. In addition, Barahona testified that even before he went to the police he was aware that the police were asking people to submit photographs and videos to them after the riot. With that knowledge in mind, Barahona must have known that a riot took place..."

A YouTube video shows Barahona strike Mackay twice in the head.

Leonati, who confessed his involvement to police investigators, claimed he simply "caved in" to police during their questioning of him.

Judge Rideout wrote: "I find that when it became clear that Leonati was inescapably linked to the assault of Mackay, he confessed. I find that this confession was not because he "caved in," but more likely because he realized there was no other explanation for his conduct."

Leonati "for no apparent reason," kicked Mackay in the head area while Mackay was covering his head in a foetal position. Leonati can also be identified kicking Mackay in the head area from the photographic evidence that I viewed."

Judge Rideout found Ioannis Kangles not guilty, and said he had a "reasonable doubt" that Kangles kicked Mackay that day.

Kangles claimed that he was trying to disarm Mackay, and feared that he might hurt someone in the crowd.

"I just wanted to make sure that the weapon was out of his hands and he was not going to hurt anybody," Kangles testified.

Rideout wrote: "...I am not prepared to disbelieve Kangles and therefore, his evidence would establish a reasonable doubt that he kicked or attempted to kick Mackay. In addition, the video evidence is equivocal in relation to the purported kick and therefore would establish a reasonable doubt that Kangles kicked or attempted to kick Mackay."

Kangles admitted to grabbing Mackay by the head with the intention of bringing him to the ground for the purpose of disarming him.

"I do not find that his use of force was disproportionate or reckless to the point of being excessive," Judge Rideout wrote.

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