The Crown has urged a jury to reject the claims of Lawrence Sharpe, who is charged with manslaughter in the death of a man inside a Burnaby coffee shop, that he was acting in self-defence.
Lawrence Sharpe punched a man inside a Burnaby Starbucks because the victim had been bullying his girlfriend, the Crown said Tuesday.
Sharpe has pleaded not guilty to the July 2017 manslaughter of Michael Page-Vincelli, 22, at the coffee shop at the Kensington shopping mall.
He testified that he and his girlfriend, Oldouz Pournouruz, followed Page-Vincelli into the Starbucks because he wanted to find out more about a dispute between Pournouruz and Page-Vincelli that preceded the fatal encounter. He claimed that he was acting in self-defence when he punched Page-Vincelli, who fell to the floor and struck his head. Page-Vincelli died later in a hospital.
In final submissions Tuesday, Crown counsel Colleen Smith quoted from a statement that Sharpe made to an undercover cop after the incident in which the accused said, “Somebody was bullying my girl and I f..king clocked him for it.”
“That’s what Lawrence Sharpe said to the undercover (officer) and that’s what happened,” said Smith. “And that’s why Mr. Sharpe’s claim that he acted in self-defence should be rejected.”
Smith said that she wanted to make it clear she didn’t condone the actions of Page-Vincelli for throwing a burning cigarette at Pournouruz and using racist language, but added that was not the issue before the jury.
She said that Pournouruz’s claim that she reacted in extreme fear to Page-Vincelli was not credible and should be rejected as well. She said there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that both accused were guilty. Her final submissions are to continue Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Pamela Smith-Gander, who is representing Pournouruz, asked the jury to accept her client’s assertion that she was shocked by the behaviour of Page-Vincelli at throwing the cigarette at her. She said her client was alone and isolated and only told Page-Vincelli that she would get her boyfriend to beat him up after a long exchange between the two outside a bank near the Starbucks. The suggestion to get her boyfriend was not a threat but merely a response to her being bullied by Page-Vincelli, said Smith-Gander.
Pournouruz went into the bank to speak to Sharpe, but their interaction was short and their conversation was limited to her telling him about the cigarette-throwing incident, said Smith-Gander. There wasn’t enough time for the couple, who have been together for 10 years, to form a plan to commit an assault on the victim, she said.
The two accused then went into the Starbucks where Page-Vincelli had gone, but Pournouruz had no idea that her boyfriend was about to assault the victim, she said.
“There’s no evidence of her encouraging him to commit an act of violence,” said Smith-Gander.
She characterized her client as being a victim in the circumstances, just going about her day minding her own business when she was attacked by Page-Vincelli.
Noting that Page-Vincelli had called her client a “dirty immigrant” and told her to return to her home country, Smith-Gander said the incident happened in the context of summer 2017, a year into the mandate of U.S. President Donald Trump. She said people were emboldened to say things that in previous years would have been completely unacceptable.
“It was a frightening time,” said Smith-Gander.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mary Humphries is to give her final instructions to the jury later this week.
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