A mini van driver who beat a stranger with a metal baseball bat in a case of road rage has been handed a six-month conditional jail sentence - to be served at home - and ordered to take a defensive driving course.
Judge Doug Moss handed the sentence to Gerardo Arguello, 38, Dec. 20 in North Vancouver provincial court for the brutal beating of Ryan McCaffery, which took place by the side of the road on North Vancouver's "Cut" on New Year's Day 2011.
"We have a problem in our society with what they call road rage," said Moss in handing down his sentence. "It seems to take place all too often."
Moss told Arguello that attacking McCaffery with a bat was "totally out of proportion to the circumstances that faced you.
"You did it in front of your own children," the judge added. "That's reprehensible to me."
Moss sentenced Arguello after finding him guilty in September of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. Moss found a second man, 35-year-old Norman Segundo, who was a passenger in Arguello's mini van, not guilty of assault in the case.
During the trial, McCaffery described how the incident started after he cut off Arguello's minivan in the process of merging onto the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, heading into North Vancouver on the afternoon of Jan. 1, 2011.
Arguello and Segundo - who were heading to the North Shore
mountains with Arguello's family to go snowboarding - became enraged at being cut off. While on the bridge, Arguello pulled his vehicle alongside McCaffery's, where all three men yelled at each other through their windows.
Arguello then began a "cat and mouse" game with McCaffery as the two mini vans drove up the "Cut" in North Vancouver.
Arguello cut across two lanes of traffic, overtaking McCaffery then slamming on his brakes to cause a collision.
After the crash, McCaffery described Segundo coming at him on the side of the road "with rage in his eyes."
Arguello then grabbed a bat from his vehicle and started hitting McCaffery with it. McCaffery was hit four or five times with the bat, including once in the head.
In court, McCaffery read an emotional victim impact statement describing how the attack has left him with permanent physical and psychological injuries.
McCaffery told the judge he lost his job as a tow truck driver because of the injuries to his arm and hand. The attack has left his family financially devastated, because of his inability to work, said McCaffery. McCaffery said he still suffers from "constant and sometimes unbearable headaches"
He said he has also become depressed and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, which has affected his relationship with his three young children. "They've had to learn to walk on eggshells," he told the judge. "I want to be the contented father I was."
Before being sentenced, Arguello took the stand to offer a tearful apology to McCaffery, saying he was "so sorry" for his actions. "I wish I could take it back," he said, looking at McCaffery in the courtroom. "It breaks my heart that your children and wife are suffering. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
Arguello added, "The person you met that day is not the person I normally am."
In handing down his sentence, Moss told Arguello most incidents of road rage are committed by "otherwise normal citizens. . . . People like you."
Moss ordered Arguello to obey a curfew that will require him to stay in his house from 7 p.m. to 5: 30 a.m. for the first three months of his sentence. He also put Arguello on a year's probation, with orders to take the driving course and counselling.
Arguello's lawyer noted he has already voluntarily completed an anger management course.
McCaffery is suing Arguello in civil court. Arguello's lawyer said that could potentially result in damages of more than $250,000.
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