Skip to content

Houston pre-grad party case continues in court

One person sentenced; two others appearing in court
Two youths - who cannot be identified because of their age - will be appearing in Houston Youth Court on May 7, 2018. Houston Today file photo.

Houston’s pre-graduation party case will continue in court next week.

On June 8, 2017, three injured individuals were taken to hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries as a result of an altercation during the party at Sunset Lake campground.

READ MORE: Stabbing at Houston pre-grad

Gerald Lester Whitford, who had been charged with three counts of aggravated assault, appeared before the B.C. Provincial Court on Feb. 6, 2018. On that day he entered a plea of guilty to the lesser included offence of assault with a weapon, and was sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence to be followed by one year of probation.

READ MORE: Houston’s pre-grad party case continues in court

In a related matter, two other individuals have been charged with assaulting Whitford. The two youths - who cannot be identified because of their age - will be appearing in Houston Youth Court on May 7, 2018.

Whitford’s mother-in-law Mavis Goertzen, however, says that as many as eight individuals who participated in the altercation should have also been charged.

Although Crown counsel do not investigate crimes, in British Columbia prosecutors decide whether criminal charges should be laid.

“As the matters arising from the assault upon Whitford remain before the court, the B.C. Prosecution Service will not be commenting on the case at this time,” said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Attorney General.

Goertzen lodged several other complaints with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP on Feb. 13, 2018.

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, including her daughter Elisha Goertzen.

She also says she considers the RCMP investigation “one-sided” and “biased,” adding that an RCMP officer made an “inappropriate comment” at the RCMP detachment on June 8, 2017 when telling her that Whitford’s actions were worse than what had happened to him.

According to Mavis, two major fights erupted that night - at 10 p.m. and at 12:30 a.m. She says the fights were “racially-motivated” based on racial comments and death threats toward her son-in-law, and that Whitford was defending himself when he pulled out the knife.

Mavis says the first fight was captured on video and later turned into police.

“My son-in-law has very little memory of this dreadful night due to his beatings,” she told Houston Today.

In addition, Mavis says she’s concerned about information provided by some of the witnesses because they were also involved in the beatings.

“This has been very shameful to our First Nations people because we have standards, customs, traditions,” she told Houston Today. “I would like everyone to take responsibility for their part.”

Madonna Saunderson, a spokesperson for the B.C. RCMP’s North District division, said she was unable to make a comment given that this matter is still before the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.