NEWS

Police reach milestone in recommending 100 people be charged in Stanley Cup riot

01/17/2012 01:49 EST | Updated 03/18/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Vancouver's Riot Investigation Team has reached a milestone by recommending charges against 100 people it says took part in last June's Stanley Cup riot, adding more suspects to the restrictive funnel of B.C.s justice system.

The police announcement Tuesday came on the same day a hearing was delayed for the only rioter convicted so far for his part in the downtown melee.

Ryan Dickinson's lawyer told a provincial court judge he would be opposing the Crown's application to allow cameras in the courtroom during his client's sentencing hearing.

Eric Warren also told the court he wasn't sure if he would get paid by legal aid for arguing about cameras in the court.

Legal aid lawyers are also staging intermittent job action for the next three months, protesting lack of funding. They plan to withdraw their services for two weeks in February, three in March and four weeks in April.

Dickinson's sentencing hearing would be scheduled only after the decision is made on broadcasting the proceedings.

He pleaded guilty to participating in a riot and breach of recognizance in connection with a previous charge. Two counts of mischief were dismissed against him.

Of the 100 accused rioters police would like to see charged, the Crown has approved charges against just 30 people.

Crown counsel spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the prosecution team expects to approve charges against another 30 people at the end of the month.

The B.C. government has said it wants cameras in court so the proceedings can be televised. But it's not a blanket request, and the Crown will have to argue for the cameras before every hearing.

"We'll determine as the matters proceed what resources are required and the time it will take," MacKenzie said. "We have senior prosecutors assigned at this point to bring the applications forward."

Vancouver Police Insp. Les Yeo isn't daunted by any delays in the system and said police will keep doing their part in making the rioters accountable.

"My message is very clear and very simple to the rioters," he said. "If you had thought that we had given up, we have not. We are here for the victims and we'll be coming to get you."

Yeo said the Riot Investigation Team is already starting on round four and hundreds of new photos of alleged rioters will be going up on the department's website soon.

Many of the new photos are captured from surveillance video at stores and business that were trashed by rioters on June 15, Yeo said.

"These are the victims and these are the people that we're working for as well as the community, but, yes, they've been very supportive and very helpful."

A report concluded alcohol and overcrowding in the city's downtown fuelled the rioters who set fires, smashed windows and looted stores.

And while it's been seven months since the riot, Yeo said he believes the public is still interested in seeing justice done and rioters are still turning themselves in to police.

"I think the message is still (that) it will in the future be passed to the rioters that we won't tolerate this in the city of Vancouver or anywhere in the province," Yeo told reporters.

Thirty-two investigators from eight different police agencies are working on the riot cases.

Eighty-two per cent of the rioters police have accused so far are from outside Vancouver.

If approved by the Crown, they could face a total 278 charges including mischief, break and enter and participating in a riot.

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