Prosecution of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot cost almost $5 million

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VICTORIA — Prosecutors spent almost $5 million bringing hundreds of people to justice for participating in Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup riot, says a new report by the B.C. government.

The report released Monday by Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, assistant deputy attorney general, gives the public a "behind-the-scenes look" at how the cases proceeded through the court system.

It is also intended to answer public questions about why it took the Criminal Justice Branch as long as it did to proceed with charges and prosecutions.

In fact, as of January, the prosecutions were "very close to completion," said DeWitt-Van Oosten.

"The scope of the 2011 Vancouver riot was unprecedented in Canada," she said. "The breadth of the riot investigation and prosecution based on photographic evidence was also without precedent."

The five-hour riot erupted June 15, 2011, moments before the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins.

Rioters damaged or destroyed 112 businesses and 122 vehicles, said DeWitt-Van Oosten, adding there were 52 assaults reported against police, emergency personnel and civilians.

Businesses and civilians suffered losses estimated at $2.7 million and $540,000, respectively, while the City of Vancouver, B.C. Ambulance Service and St. Paul's Hospital lost $525,000.

DeWitt-Van Oosten said police created an integrated investigation team that collected evidence totalling 5,500 hours of video and more than 29,700 photos.

She said 51 analysts and investigators at a lab in Indianapolis, Ind., spent more than 4,000 hours processing the video, but police also set up a website so members of the public could identify suspects.

The Criminal Justice Branch had to create a riot-prosecution team that was originally composed of a leader, three lawyers and an administrative assistance but soon grew by three more lawyers and two administrative assistants.

She said the team's total expenditures were $4,976,765.

DeWitt-Van Oosten said the branch laid 912 charges against 300 suspects of whom 246 were adults and 54 were youths.

She said 284 people pleaded guilty, 10 chose to go to trial and of those nine were convicted. The Crown stayed proceedings against six people.

"Over 500 court days were required to complete the trial and the sentencing hearings," she said.

DeWitt-Van Oosten said 47 per cent of adult offenders received a jail sentence to be served in an institution and 47 per cent were sentenced to serve their time in the community under conditions that restricted their liberty.

"Only 17 per cent of persons charged in the Vancouver riot had a criminal record," she said.

DeWitt-Van Oosten compared that with the prosecutions that followed a four-day "disorder" in London in 2011. She said 71 per cent of those charged had at least one previous criminal conviction in the United Kingdom, and 40 per cent had more than five previous offences.

"Hopefully, this prosecution will deter -- even prevent -- the reoccurrence of events like the 2011 riot, as those who would riot and commit other crimes under cover of a crowd now know they do so at their peril," said DeWitt-Van Oosten.