A man from a prominent West Vancouver family who head-butted a relative, breaking his nose in what a judge called a violent and unprovoked attack, has been handed a six-month jail sentence.
Darin Carlos Slade Diligenti, 50, was handed the jail sentence Monday (May 30) by Judge Lyndsay Smith in North Vancouver provincial court. In May 2021, the judge found Diligenti guilty of assault causing bodily harm stemming from a violent assault of his stepbrother three years ago at their parents’ West Vancouver home.
Diligenti won't serve that sentence right away, however. On Thursday, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice ordered him release on bail, pending an appeal.
At the sentencing hearing, Diligenti told the judge through his lawyer that the incident was part of a long-simmering family feud between step-siblings in the blended family and that the assault should be considered in that context.
But Smith rejected that, saying Diligenti’s actions were unprovoked and intended to cause pain and injury.
“The assault did not occur in the context of a consensual fight or anything of the kind. It was unprovoked and unexpected,” she said.
The judge added unexplained violence, “must be denounced in the strongest terms.”
“I find the court must send a strong message to the community that striking another person in the head or face will result in a significant penalty.”
Smith rejected a request for a discharge or suspended sentence from Diligenti’s defence lawyer Michael Klein who pointed to his client’s lack of any criminal record. The judge also rejected consideration of a conditional sentence, noting, “Real jail has greater deterrence.”
History of family feud
In finding Diligenti guilty of the assault in May 2021, the judge noted Diligenti and the man he attacked, Anthony Smith, are adult stepbrothers, who became part of a blended family two decades ago when Smith’s father and Diligenti’s mother married. “Both were clear that the family blending has not gone well and they do not get along,” the judge wrote.
The assault took place in a cul-de-sac near their parents’ West Vancouver home. On that day, Smith, an electrician, had gone to the house to do some electrical work at his father’s request, while Diligenti had shown up with a plan to have coffee with his mother.
At one point, the two men encountered each other at the property. Diligenti started making insulting comments about Smith’s hair, and questioning him on previous electrical work, following Smith and an electrical apprentice up a set of wooden steps on the property to their van parked nearby, where the electricians had gone to retrieve some tools.
Diligenti continued speaking to Smith, who had not responded, said the judge. But when Smith turned around and walked towards him, Diligenti dropped his shoulders “cocking his head back and then slamming it forward so that his forehead connected with [Smith’s],” according to a witness.
Head butt results in fractured nose
Smith fell back on the pavement, briefly losing consciousness, and his nose began to bleed.
A CT scan at Lions Gate Hospital later showed his nose had been fractured, wrote the judge. The assault should be considered more serious because Diligenti knew about a previous head injury Smith had suffered, said the judge.
The judge rejected the argument that Diligenti had been provoked or was acting in self-defence, describing Diligenti as “the provocateur” throughout the incident.
Smith also dismissed the opinions in a number of letters submitted to support Diligenti that suggested “the protracted family dysfunction is legally relevant to the case.... It is not,” said the judge.
The judge ordered Diligenti to complete 12 months' probation following the jail term, including taking anger management counselling as directed.
That sentence has been put on hold, however, pending the outcome of the appeal in B.C. Supreme Court.
A date for the appeal has not yet been set.