An exasperated 77-year-old Surrey man is threatening to sue two Surrey constables, who allegedly assaulted him, after learning they won't be tried in court.
Judge Ronald Lamperson, at Surrey provincial court, stayed criminal court proceedings against Surrey RCMP Const. Mitchell Spears and Transit Police Const. Ken Jansen on Wednesday after finding their Charter rights to a timely trial had been infringed upon by 22 months of court delays.
Had Lamperson decided otherwise, their six-day trial was scheduled to begin on April 2.
Last month both constables pleaded not guilty to assaulting Robert Keith Booker at Surrey Memorial Hospital on April 22, 2010.
Spears also pleaded not guilty to assault with a weapon.
The Crown alleged Booker was assaulted and Tasered during an unprovoked attack in an emergency ward waiting room. Booker was 73 at the time.
"I'm totally disgusted with the whole damn system," Booker said outside court. "It was the police that delayed this trial. I'm a senior citizen on my own, with no outside help, taking on the legal system, which is the police, the government and the judicial system.
"I'd like to get a lawyer to help me file a civil claim, and go after it that way," he said. "I've had nothing but abuse from the RCMP, all the way along, not only with this but other matters, too."Lamperson determined that 29 months had passed since the officers were charged but attributed 22 of those to institutional delay.
Lamperson found both officers had been prejudiced by the delay. Jansen's lawyer David Butcher tendered evidence to support this. Spears' lawyer Jack Harris did not, but argued the judge should infer his client's rights had been prejudiced nevertheless.
Though neither officer spent time in jail, Lamperson noted, Jansen had been suspended from active duty and experienced the humility of being escorted out of his workplace after being charged. Jansen figured he'd lost a potential $10,000 he could have made in overtime, and experienced stress-related health problems, while waiting for the court to deal with this matter.
Lamperson said the delay "clearly caused prejudice" to the officers - perhaps more than other people in a similar situation, considering their profession.
Before a hearing got underway last month into whether the officers' Charter rights had been breached, Crown prosecutor Janet Dickie - who had been assigned to the file late in the proceedings - told Lamperson she expected to call nine witnesses should the trial proceed. She had also planned to present hospital video footage during the trial.
"The force applied was excessive and dangerous," she said in February.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said it's too early to say if the Crown will appeal.
"We'll be looking at the judge's reasons carefully."