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West Van man won't serve jail time for head-butt of stepbrother

Six months’ jail reduced to three-month conditional sentence on appeal
A West Vancouver man who head-butted his stepbrother has had his sentence for assault causing bodily harm reduced on appeal. | Mike Wakefield / North Shore News files

A man from a prominent West Vancouver family who head-butted a relative, in what a judge called a violent and unprovoked attack, will avoid time in jail and instead serve a conditional sentence of three months in the community.

Darin Carlos Slade Diligenti, 51, was given the more lenient sentence April 26 in B.C. Supreme Court following a successful appeal of a six-month jail sentence handed down in 2022.

Diligenti was handed the original sentence by Judge Lyndsay Smith in North Vancouver provincial court, who found Diligenti guilty of assault causing bodily harm for a violent assault of his stepbrother Anthony Smith at their parents’ West Vancouver home in 2019.

Diligenti had been out on bail, pending the appeal.

At the original sentencing hearing in provincial court, 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 judge added unexplained violence “must be denounced in the strongest terms.”

According to information presented in the original trial, the assault took place in a cul-de-sac near the men’s parents’ West Vancouver home. Smith had gone to the house to do some electrical work at his father’s request, while Diligenti had shown up to have coffee with his mother.

At one point, the two men encountered each other at the property and Diligenti started making insulting comments about 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.

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.

In the appeal, Michael Klein, lawyer for Diligenti, argued that the jail sentence was “disproportionate and unreasonably harsh” and that a conditional sentence – to be served outside of jail – was more appropriate.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Duncan agreed.

While the B.C. Supreme Court justice said Diligenti clearly provoked the fight, she found he lacked the detailed knowledge of his victim’s previous head injury as asserted by the prosecutor.

The judge also agreed with Klein that it was unfair to ask Diligenti to prove he wasn’t a danger to the community.

While Diligenti’s explanation – that he was defending himself – was “not objectively reasonable,” it was “some explanation for why he behaved as he did,” the judge said, “albeit not a particularly satisfactory or mature one.”

The judge substituted a new three-month conditional sentence for the original jail term, with a curfew to be observed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Diligenti has also been ordered to complete 25 hours of community service.

Another B.C. Supreme Court judge previously tossed out Diligenti’s appeal of the conviction.

Smith died in 2023 before the appeal of the case was heard.