One of the two youths facing charges related to last year’s pre-graduation party altercations at Sunset Lake campground pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm last week.
The young person, who cannot be identified because of his age, was given a conditional discharge.
“He was placed on probation for 12 months with a number of conditions,” explained Dan McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the B.C. Prosecution Service.
The co-accused, who also cannot be identified because of his age, had his matter adjourned to July 9, 2018 to allow him to consult counsel, said McLaughlin.
If he pleads guilty, a trial will not be held, and the next step will be for the judge to decide the appropriate sentence. If he pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set, and both Crown and defence counsel will then estimate the amount of time they believe will be required for the trial.
The two youths were charged with assaulting Gerald Lester Whitford at a pre-graduation party that resulted in three individuals being taken to hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries on June 8, 2017.
Whitford had originally been charged with three counts of aggravated assault for altercations that occurred during the party, but later pleaded guilty to the lesser included offence of assault with a weapon. He was sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence to be followed by one year of probation last February.
Whitford’s parents, however, say they are not pleased with the results of the investigation and have pleaded for more witnesses to come forward. They believe that further investigation could not only bolster the prosecution’s case against the two youths, but also lead to more people being charged with assaulting their son.
“There are still many unanswered questions that our family needs answers to,” parents Janet and Gerry Whitford told Houston Today earlier this spring. “This has been a parents’ worst nightmare.”
Gerald’s mother-in-law, Mavis Goertzen, says she’s also displeased with the investigation. Earlier this year she lodged several complaints with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.
In a copy of the complaint, obtained by Houston Today, Goertzen says the RCMP “failed to conduct a proper investigation,” specifying that key witnesses have not been interviewed. Her daughter Elisha Goertzen has since been questioned by the RCMP.
She also says she considers the RCMP investigation “one-sided,” adding that a police officer made an “inappropriate comment” at the Houston RCMP detachment when telling her that Gerald’s actions were worse than what had happened to him.
“We have felt very shamed with the bias issues and how this case has been investigated,” she told Houston Today.
Madonna Saunderson, a spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP’s North District division, said she was unable to make a comment given that the matter is still before the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
The B.C. Prosecution Service has also not commented on this case given that the matters arising from the assault upon Gerald remain before the court.