03/22/2018 14:19 EDT | Updated 03/23/2018 10:02 EDT

'Life-altering consequences:' Edmonton busker jailed for assaulting man

EDMONTON — A judge has sentenced a busker to 18 months in jail for attacking a man he thought had swiped some of his change.

The assault left Donny Crier, 41, a quadriplegic.

Court heard Allen Dakota Cardinal was playing his guitar inside a light rail transit station in downtown Edmonton last April.

Crier was dancing nearby with a friend who had dropped some money onto a blanket that Cardinal was using to collect donations.

Court was told Crier picked up some of the money and gave it to his friend, who then returned it to the blanket.

Soon after, Cardinal started fighting with Crier and, when Crier turned to walk away, Cardinal punched him in the back of the head, sending him onto the train tracks.

A police officer and passerby helped pull an unconscious Crier onto the platform and out of the way of an oncoming train.

Crier woke up in hospital to discover he had an irreversible spinal injury.

Cardinal, 32, pleaded guilty in November to aggravated assault.

Provincial court Judge Greg Lepp said during his sentencing decision Thursday that Cardinal didn't intend to put Crier in a wheelchair, but violence should never be a solution when someone feels they've been wronged.

"It can — and in this case did — have life-altering consequences," said Lepp. "Mr. Crier ... needs constant care and will for the rest of his life."

The judge said Cardinal deserved a three-year sentence, but he took into account the time Cardinal had already spent in custody.

Crier, sitting in his wheelchair outside court, disputed that he had tried to take money from Cardinal.

He said he wasn't happy with the sentence. The Crown had asked that Cardinal, who has two prior assault convictions, serve six to eight years behind bars.

"He gets out. He's walking," said Crier. "I'm still in a wheelchair."

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