07 Jul What Happens If My Neighbour Assaults Me?
The Court considered a neighbour assault, or battery, in Rycroft v. Rego, 2017 BCSC 373. The Plaintiff lived in a rented house on a large acreage at the time of the assault. His son and a friend had set-up a BMX bike course on the acreage. The Defendant’s property adjoined this property.
The day of the assault, the Plaintiff received a call from a neighbour who was concerned that some boys were damaging the bike park. He had told them to get away from the area before telephoning the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff told the neighbour he would deal with it when he got home from work. The boys who had been at the bike park went to the Defendant’s home. They told the Defendant’s wife that a man had yelled at them and told them to get off the property.
Before the Plaintiff returned home, he purchased a Slurpee. He had the Slurpee in one hand and a cigarette in the other when he walked into the backyard to the bike park. The evidence regarding what happened next was contentious.
The Plaintiff testified that he saw some children in the bike park and told them to leave. He started to walk over to investigate whether there was damage. As he walked, he heard a voice say “Don’t” and then turned to see the Defendant and his wife walking towards him. He stated that the Defendant was about three to five feet from him when he said, “You must be the dad; I do not want kids playing there anymore because…,”. That sentence was interrupted by the Defendant hitting the left side of his head, partly knocking him down. The Defendant jumped on his back, put him into a stranglehold and then punched him. When the Defendant’s wife yelled, “He can’t breathe”, the Defendant let him go and asked “Do you want round two”. The Plaintiff replied “You bet” but rather than respond physically, he called the police.
The Defendant testified that he went to the yard to identify the person the children said had threatened them. He said he saw the Plaintiff and asked him whether there were problems with the kids. The Defendant indicated that he responded “Yeah you need to keep your f—— kids off my property.” The Defendant said the Plaintiff pushed him and he was acting in self-defence when he put him into a headlock, punched him and body slammed him. He said his wife arrived at that time and told them to stop.
After considering the witnesses’ testimony and the physical evidence, the Court rejected most of the Defendant’s testimony. The Court found that the Defendant had punched the Plaintiff and when he went to the ground, the Defendant put him into a headlock. During the altercation, the Defendant hit the Plaintiff’s left temple. This was consistent with photographs of bruising taken by the police. The Plaintiff also injured his arm, elbow and hand when he hit the ground. In assessing damages, the Court awarded the Plaintiff $217,500 in damages, including:
(a) Non-pecuniary damages: $70,000;
(b) Past Income loss: $100,000;
(c) Loss of earning capacity: $45,000;
(d) Aggravated Damages: $2,500.
This case shows it is important to identify the key witness information and preserve physical evidence, such as taking photographs to verify areas of injury and bruising. Contact Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota as soon as possible to assist you with this process.