Were an alleged assault victim’s injuries caused by a metal pipe, or by an accidental tumble down some stairs? That’s the big question in a B.C. Supreme court trial that started Monday (Nov. 21) at the Chilliwack Law Courts, with Robert Macaskill’s fate hanging in the balance.
Macaskill, who is 50, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault.
Crown prosecutor Henry Waldock laid out of the case against the accused during his opening statement, saying it actually doesn’t matter how the victim was hurt. Pipe or stairs, either came as a result of Macaskill’s actions.
“If the injuries were caused by a tumble down the stairs, if that tumble down the stairs was caused by attempting to escape an assault, the Crown will argue that leads to conviction,” Waldock said. “But the Crown will be urging upon the court the version with the weapon. It is a more aggravating set of facts that will impact sentencing.”
The alleged assault happened Feb. 24, 2019. Macaskill, the downstairs resident of a house at 9526 Corbould St. in Chilliwack, heard a noise from the second floor around 8 a.m.
Going upstairs to investigate, he found a man lying in a bed. Waldock suggested it was a cold day and the man, who was homeless, had asked the upstairs tenant if he could stay there. Macaskill’s position is that the man had broken into the home. According to a statement he gave to police, Macaskill called him a junkie and said the bed he was lying in was covered with needles. Macaskill said he “kicked him in the ass with the side of his foot” to get him out of bed.
From there, Macaskill suggested the man was so eager to get out of the house that he tripped heading down the stairs and tumbled to the bottom. Macaskill denied using a weapon.
Waldock’s version had Macaskill hitting the man with a short metal pipe. He suggested the first strike may have been hard enough to break the man’s leg, and Waldock theorized that Macaskill continued to hit him as he fled down the stairs and out of the house.
“Leaving him with a broken skull, broken shoulder, broken arm and broken leg,” Waldock added.
The victim is due to take the witness stand Tuesday (Nov. 22), though Waldock said he now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and his memory of the alleged assault is spotty.
“It’s probably, for him, a great blessing. Carrying memories of this sort of thing around would be a great burden,” Waldock said. “It’s natural and healthy for him to forget, but not to helpful for the Crown’s prosecution. I want the court to have the full narrative of what occurred.”
Crown will attempt to fill in blanks by combining his in-person testimony with the statement he gave to police soon after the alleged assault and what he said in a preliminary hearing.
The trial is scheduled to take four days, wrapping up Thursday (Nov. 24).
Macaskill is well-known to police with several convictions dating back two decades.