Dan Van Do was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison followed by two years of probation for assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats.
The incident occurred June 21, 2016 at the small craft harbour adjacent to Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. Do confronted three men who had moved his vessel without his permission, attacking them with a hatchet and causing significant injury to one of the victim’s hands.
He was disarmed, but rearmed himself with an axe from his vessel and chased after the three men, yelling threats. In the parking lot he also threatened two women who were not initially involved in the incident.
“The assaults in this case were motiveless, unprovoked and completely disproportionate to the circumstances in which the accused found himself,” said Judge Brian Harvey at the sentencing on Monday, Nov. 20.
Do’s first court appearance was June 22, 2016. His trial took place June 29, 2017 and was continued on July 4 and 5.
Harvey found Do guilty of one count of assault causing bodily harm, five counts of assault with a weapon, one count of possessing a weapon for dangerous purpose and two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
“It is my view that this court must have a strong message to other like-minded individuals who would seek to resolve their disputes with violence utilizing weapons rather than with peaceable means,” Harvey continued at the sentencing. “Such unnecessary and senseless violence will not be tolerated in this community or any other community in this province no matter its size or population.”
Both crown and defence counsel presented information at the sentencing that Harvey said he took into consideration when making his decision.
Do’s lawyer requested a suspended sentence and lengthy probation. He suggested that because Do does not have a history of violence, that he has a family that he cares for financially and that he is a valued member of the community. He also presented letters of recommendation from Do’s family members as well as family friends and spoke of Do’s crippling regret and battle with depression since the trial.
Crown counsel requested time in prison, referencing other assault convictions, though none with an axe or hatchet, where the defendants were sentenced anywhere from one to four years in prison.
“I am persuaded that due to the nature of the attack and the injuries that were sustained in this case, and that the accused chose further violence after the incident directly by the vessels that the suspended sentence would be an unfit sentence in these particular circumstances for this particular offender,” Harvey said.
The judge instead decided on the 18-month sentence followed by two years’ probation. The probation order includes a 10-year ban on owning a weapon as well as zero contact with the victims.