In March 2015, Coalmont resident Roland Giroux drove his car into the town’s only telephone booth with Warren Spence in it. Giroux was found guilty on July 24 in (Black Press file photo)

Man guilty of bizarre assault banned from Similkameen village for a year

Roland Giroux convicted of assault charges related to striking man in telephone booth with vehicle

A Similkameen man who was found guilty of driving his vehicle into a telephone booth while another man was inside has been banned from the Village of Coalmont for a year.

Roland Giroux, 69, was convicted of one count of assault with a weapon and one count of assault causing bodily harm after an incident that destroyed the only telephone booth in the Village of Coalmont in 2015.

B. C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Grauer concluded Wednesday that the medical evidence the defence brought forward on July 23 that said Giroux might have suffered an epileptic seizure, which could have caused him to lose control of his vehicle and crash into the phone booth, didn’t provide reasonable doubt.

READ MORE: Bizarre alleged assault trial where Coalmont’s only payphone destroyed

Giroux was sentenced to a one year suspended sentence, essentially a year of probation, after the Justice took into account his severe medical condition, advanced age and that he does not have a criminal record. He is also not permitted to be in Coalmont for the duration of the sentence. Giroux had been under house arrest since the incident in 2015 and currently lives in Princeton to be closer to the hospital.

Grauer called the evidence of “limited use” in establishing reasonable doubt, adding an epileptic seizure was inconsistent with the agreed statement of facts.

According to the agreed statement of facts read in Supreme Court in Penticton on July 23, Giroux saw Warren Spence, a man he was known to have ill-will toward, in the booth while he drove by on his way home on March 29, 2015.

Giroux travelled one or two blocks before changing direction and headed back to the street where the booth was. From there, he lined up his red 1989 Ford Escort with the telephone booth while Spence was still inside.

READ MORE: Little village has big problems

Giroux stopped for a few seconds before accelerating quickly, ramming his vehicle into the telephone booth. The booth was destroyed and knocked off its foundation. Spence was thrown out and suffered lacerations and soft tissue damage to his knees.

Giroux said, “If I can get this car going, I’m going to finish the job,” when he got out and tried to strike Spence with his walking stick. The statement of facts also say that Spence had to arm himself with a shovel to scare Giroux away.

READ MORE: Judge hopes Coalmont feud stops

Grauer said there was no reason for Giroux to turn back to the phone booth on his way back home, saying “Giroux undertook acts in which he intended to cause bodily harm.” He said an epileptic seizure was also inconsistent with what happened after, when Giroux exited his car and said he was going to “finish the job.”

On Tuesday, the court heard from two witnesses, Dr. Ella Munro of Princeton General Hospital and Penticton neurologist Dr. Niall Davidson.

Dr. Munro, who is a witness for the defence and treated Giroux when he came in with the RCMP after the incident, is Giroux’s family physician.

Over the years, she has treated him for a host of health conditions, such as coronary artery disease, a brain injury and skull fractures from a snowmobile accident and blindness in his right eye. He was also diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2014.

Munro said in court that Giroux told her his heart had been racing and he was experiencing dizzy spells. When he arrived in the emergency room in Princeton, he had a laceration straight through his lip, which she said she thought might have been caused by a loss of consciousness at the time of the impact.

But after a 72-hour observation period, Munro said his heart rate was stable and there was nothing to explain the incident. She also said that after further CT scans months later and an analysis by Dr. Davidson, Giroux could have suffered a seizure, resulting from epilepsy. Giroux was prescribed anti-seizure medication which improved his condition.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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