Editor’s note: the following story contains graphic content
The B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver has agreed with Crown counsel and voted unanimously to increase a jail sentence for a Vernon man who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in connection with a vicious attack in a former Vernon establishment.
Lucas Allen Slizak, born in 1991, was originally sentenced in provincial court in Vernon to a 90-day intermittent jail sentence and three years probation in connection with the incident in September 2014. Slizak pleaded guilty to the charge on the second day of his trial.
The Crown said the sentence is “demonstably unfit” and appealed.
A trio of justices agreed with the appeal and sentenced Slizak to 18 months in prison.
From the justices’ appeal decision, court heard on the night of Sept. 21, 2014, Slizak was inside Monashee’s Bar and Grill, as was the victim, who was 23 at the time. Slizak – who was not intoxicated – sucker-punched the victim, hitting him “very hard with a closed fist.” The victim collapsed unconscious. Slizak then “took a couple of strides forwards, raised his knee to hip level and stomped on the victim’s head. He then fled as the victim lay on the ground in a pool of blood.”
The attack was unprovoked. The two men did not know each other and it remains unclear why Slizak sucker-punched the victim.
The victim suffered serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury which left him with short-term memory loss. He suffered from depression, ongoing headaches and was hospitalized for nearly two weeks. He lost employment, income, and suffered long-term consequences socially and economically.
Before the incident, Slizak did not have a criminal record. Save for this incident, wrote the Justices, everything points to a man of good character.
The judge at trial was provided with many letters of reference attesting to Slizak’s good character.
The Crown argued that the trial judge made an error by mischaracterizing the offence as arising out of a fight that escalated out of control. The Crown also appealed that the judge failed to properly assess the gravity of the offence, Slizak’s “moral blameworthiness” and the fact the victim, who is smaller than the accused, was unable to defend himself and left with long-lasting, serious injuries.
The Court of Appeal Justices concurred.
“The approach taken by the judge utterly fails to grasp the gravity of the offence,” wrote the justices. “And, similarly, it does not begin to come to grips with Mr. Slizak’s moral culpability for the offence.
“The fact that it was out of character, inexplicable or the result of a momentary lapse, does not detract from these conclusions.”