A Crown prosecutor has asked for 30 to 90 days in jail for a North Vancouver man who was captured on video looting the Sears store in downtown Vancouver during the Stanley Cup hockey riot last year.
Video showing Jacob Pateman, 19, going into Sears through the store's smashed glass doors, grabbing cosmetics from a display case and then running out again was played in Vancouver provincial court Friday during Pateman's sentencing hearing.
Pateman pleaded guilty May 11 to participating in a riot in connection with the melee that broke out downtown on the evening of June 15 last year following the Vancouver Canucks' loss to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.
That riot "epitomizes the breakdown of core societal values," Crown counsel Rod Flannigan told provincial court Judge David St. Pierre.
"For many hours downtown Vancouver was under siege and people were terrified," said Flannigan." Pateman was "one of those who took control of our streets and turned our city into a war zone," he said.
Flannigan said jail time was warranted in the case because of the need for general deterrence.
On the night the riot broke out, Pateman - then 18 - watched the hockey game on TV while drinking at a friend's home in North Vancouver, said Flannigan. Before the game ended, however, Pateman and his friends decided to head downtown.
There, the riot was just getting underway. He saw rioters lighting cars on fire and "ripping trees out" and using them as battering rams to smash doors, said Flannigan.
Later, he met up with an ex-girlfriend. The couple was outside Sears when a crowd of rioters smashed the windows and glass doors and swarmed into the store to loot it.
He saw people going in and out of Sears "so he did as well," Flannigan said Pateman told police. "Someone beside him smashed a display case and started taking things, so he did too," said Flannigan.
Pateman grabbed some fake nails, merchandise in gold boxes and cologne before running out of the store with his ex-girlfriend, where the pair was once again captured on camera. He later either gave away or threw away the items he had taken.
He stayed downtown until the police forced everyone to leave, taking the last SeaBus home to the North Shore around 2 a.m.
The Vancouver Police Department's riot investigation team tracked down Pateman in the course of investigating his ex-girlfriend, who has also pled guilty to participating in a riot. Pateman was arrested Nov. 4 and admitted his actions to police, said Flannigan.
Flannigan urged the judge to consider Pateman's action in view of the entire riot that night. "In a riot the actions of one are the actions of all," he said, quoting a previous court ruling. Each rioter aids and abets the others in the mob to make "destruction of property acceptable and almost normal," he added.
Minor crimes therefore become more serious when committed during a riot, he said. "You can't just look at (Pateman) going into Sears for approximately 30 seconds," said Flannigan. "He was drinking and partying on the streets when he obviously knew a riot was going on.
"People had choices when they were down there," he said. "Mr. Pateman had choices."
In summarizing the riot, Flannigan told the judge there were more than 1,000 emergency response personnel downtown on that night. More calls came in to 9-1-1 during a four-hour period than in any other 24-hour period in the city, he said, adding that 92 calls for ambulance service had to be put on hold. Police logged 26 arsons, 52 assaults, and 112 vehicles destroyed or damaged, including 24 emergency vehicles, he said.
The total value of the damage from the riot is estimated at $3.7 million.
Flannigan added one shock when watching the videos of the riot is seeing "the glee in people's faces."
Pateman's lawyer Brent Anderson asked the judge to consider a conditional discharge or conditional sentence order for Pateman.
He said Pateman was drunk and only played a minor role in the riot. He wasn't one of the first wave of looters who swarmed into the Sears store and didn't actively encourage anyone else to riot, said Anderson.
Anderson said the judge should distinguish between "those who start a riot and those who get caught up in it through youthful foolishness."
Anderson said Pateman has already been "publicly shamed" by the media coverage of charges against him and "in many respects he's a different person than the person who committed the offence."
Pateman, who attended court with several family members from North Vancouver, continues to have their support, said Anderson. He added a criminal record would impact Pateman's future job prospects and might impede his search for his birth mother in the United States.
Anderson handed up 15 letters of support for Pateman from employers and community members as well as a letter of apology to the court from Pateman.
St. Pierre has reserved his decision until October. Other North Vancouver residents await sentencing on riot-related charges.