Witnesses testify in weapons trial

NANAIMO – A man injured in a shootout that happened on Wilgress Road in May 2010 testified at the resulting weapons trial on Thursday.

A man injured in a shootout on Wilgress Road in May 2010 testified at the resulting weapons trial on Thursday.

Simon Phillip Dockerill, charged with possession of a restricted firearm, was initially charged with murder following the late afternoon incident, which killed John Charles Borden, 47, and injured Dockerill and another man.

But following developments in the police investigation, Crown counsel requested last July that the murder charge be dropped, which satisfied the Crown that the deceased initiated the exchange of gunfire that led to his death and Dockerill responded with an apparent act of self-defence.

Dockerill’s 10-day trial began June 10 in B.C. Supreme Court and is scheduled to run until Friday (June 21).

On Thursday afternoon, the Crown called Dylan Ambrus, 33, who has known Dockerill since secondary school.

Ambrus testified that Dockerill phoned him the day of the incident to tell him he was going to pick up some money and wanted his help to buy a heat pump, as Ambrus installs the units for a living.

Dockerill picked up Ambrus and they drove to Borden’s residence, an apartment at 2253 Wilgress Rd. in central Nanaimo, to pick up the money.

“Everything seemed totally normal,” he said. “As far as I know, [Dockerill] just simply lent [Borden] money.”

Ambrus said Dockerill parked near the stairs of the two-storey industrial building Borden lived in, and while Ambrus remained in the vehicle playing on his new cellphone, Dockerill walked up the stairs to Borden’s apartment. Next, the door to Borden’s apartment opened, an envelope was thrown out, then the door closed quickly again, he said.

Ambrus testified that Dockerill picked up the envelope and headed back down the stairs, then the door opened again and Borden emerged with a gun pointed at the sky, walked partway down the stairs, then started shooting. Borden walked down the rest of the stairs, came to the front of Dockerill’s vehicle and pointed the gun at Ambrus’s head. Ambrus described Borden as looking like a robot, with a blank expression on his face.

“I put my hands up,” said Ambrus. “I thought he was going to shoot me through the dash.”

Borden veered away, so Ambrus opened the car door and ran as fast as possible. He heard some shots as he ran and then was hit in the leg.

Christopher Wilson, who owned a business on the first floor of the building Borden lived in at the time of the incident, also testified Thursday. Wilson was talking with a customer on the phone near the front of his appliance shop when he heard shots being fired. He hung up with the client, got his cellphone, called 911 and looked out the front door to see a man taking cover and shooting straight in front of him.

“He was crouching next to the car, arm stretched in front of him,” said Wilson, adding he knew he was shooting because he could hear the shots and see the gun jumping in front of the man, who he identified as Dockerill.

After he moved away from the door, Wilson heard some rapid fire shots and he also heard someone screaming in anguish and then after that, someone calling for help.

“The whole thing was very quick,” he said.