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Update: Brotherston sentenced to three years in prison
By Daniel Palmer/News staff
Greg Brotherston will spend the next three years in prison for the manslaughter of Colwood resident Richard Green.
Brotherston, 31, looked squarely towards B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron McKinnon as the sentence was read out, looking tense but showing no emotion.
McKinnon referred to Brotherston's "record for violence," which includes break and enter and assault causing bodily harm.
"The tendency of the accused towards violence takes this case out of the lower range of sentences," McKinnon said in Victoria courts Wednesday.
The incident occurred Oct. 8 at the Country Rose pub in Colwood.
Brotherston and an ex-girlfriend, Kelly Sousa, were engaged in a heated argument inside the bar when Sousa slapped Brotherston, breaking a glass in the process.
Sousa exited the bar and Brotherston followed her, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Sousa then repeatedly hit Brotherston in the face outside the bar as they argued.
At no point did Brotherston fight back, McKinnon said, but 57-year-old Green walked out of the bar to find the woman had lost her footing and was on the ground.
"Believing Ms. Sousa was in some jeopardy, Mr. Green motioned for Sousa to come towards him," McKinnon said. Green told Brotherston to get in his car and go home, which led to a shouting a match between the two men.
"This has nothing to do with you," Brotherston said to Green. The two men stood nose-to-nose, Green with his back arched, when Brotherston delivered a single open-hand blow to the side of Green's head.
Green fell backwards, striking his head and fracturing his skull. He died Oct. 14 in hospital, upgrading the assault charge to manslaughter.
Immediately after the assault, Brotherston began apologizing and begged Green to wake up, but asked witnesses not to call 911. Brotherston then left the scene before emergency crews arrived.
Crown prosecutor Laureen Nowlan-Card had argued for a four- to six-year sentence as a means of deterrence and denunciation.
Defence lawyer Richard Neary had asked for a sentence of one to two years less a day, arguing that Brotherston quickly pled guilty and never intended to cause Green serious harm by slapping him.
McKinnon noted that the 22 letters filed in support of Brotherston failed to mention his criminal record, and chastised father Ken Brotherston Sr. for referring to the incident as "a tragic accident."
"It was no such thing," McKinnon said. "This was not a gentle tap ... and Mr. Green is innocent of complicity in the attack."
On the steps of the courthouse, Ken Brotherston Sr. defended his version of facts.
"We still see this as a tragic accident," he said. "It could have happened to any one of us."
Brotherston was also prohibited from possessing firearms for life and was ordered to give a DNA samples to the court.
- With files from Kyle Wells
Story from Tuesday, Dec. 18:
By Kyle Wells/News staff
In the second day of Greg Brotherston's sentencing hearing his lawyer argued against a harsh punishment.
Brotherston is waiting to hear his sentence after pleading guilty for manslaughter for an incident that caused the death of Richard Green outside of the Country Rose Pub in October.
Considering the blow that knocked Green over was openhanded, that Brotherston expressed immediate remorse and that he entered a guilty plea at the earliest possible moment, his lawyer, Ricahrd Neary, said the amount of blame appropriate for Brotherston is on the lower end of the scale.
"No quarrel whatsoever is taken with the magnitude of the loss," Neary said, later arguing that when gauging "the objective foreseeability that the act could cause death," Brotherston could not have reasonably predicted that an open-handed hit could lead to death.
Those in the courtroom in support of Richard Green's family became audibly frustrated during the defense lawyer's case. Brotherston's parents, including his father, former Highlands councillor Ken Brotherston, attended the hearing.
Letters were read by Neary in favour of Brotherston's character and Neary spoke of the programs Brotherston has been taking part in while in custody, including educational programs. Brotherston did not seek bail once he heard of Green's death.
Brotherston spoke shortly to the court, fighting back his emotions.
"To Mr. Green's family, loved ones, Kevin (Green)," Brotherston said. "I couldn't have imagined this happening. I am just grief stricken and I am just so sorry for this. To everyone affected I am so sorry."
Neary is arguing for a jail sentence of one to two years for Brotherston.
A sentence is expected on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The two-day sentencing spanned over Dec. 17 and 18. The actual sentencing occurred after the New’s Gazette’s deadline.
On Monday Brotherston re-entered his plea of guilty in front of the judge and the court room.
Crown counsel Laureen Nowlan-Card read from a statement of facts agreed upon by both sides of the hearing and explained what happened in the incident leading up to the death of Colwood resident Richard Green, 57.
The court heard from the Crown how both Brotherston and Green were at the Country Rose Pub, Oct. 8.
Brotherston, a Highlands resident, went to the pub to meet an ex-girlfriend. Green, who was a regular at the pub, was there with a friend.
Brotherston’s conversation with the woman turned angry and she slapped him and left the pub. Brotherston followed her. Green overheard the commotion and he and his friend decided to go outside for a cigarette and to make sure everything was OK.
Brotherston and the woman continued to argue outside where she continued to slap and punch him.
The court heard Brotherston never hit or struck the woman at any point.
Green approached the arguing couple while Brotherston was holding on to her sweater to stop her from leaving. Brotherston was threatening to call the police and charge the woman with assault and asked Green to be a witness.
Green told Brotherston he didn’t see the woman strike him and urged Brotherston to leave. Brotherston started to argue with Green, telling him “This has nothing to do with you” and “stay out of this.”
At this point Brotherston was in Green’s face when he hit Green across the jaw and cheek with an open-handed strike.
Green fell to ground without buckling, stumbling or breaking his fall, a sign the blow had knocked Green unconscious or stunned him before he hit the ground.
When Green fell, his head struck the pavement and fractured his skull. The resulting brain injury caused his death in hospital seven days later.
After Green fell, Brotherston started apologizing to him and begged him to wake up. He asked the others there not to call 911. Brotherston then left before emergency crews arrived.
Crown asked the judge for a four- to six-year sentence, as a means of deterrence and denunciation. Brotherston’s defence asked for a sentence of one to two years, less a day, arguing that given Brotherston slapped Green and that the strike caused no injury, Brotherston never intended to cause Green serious harm.
“Mr. Brotherston could have walked away,” Nowlan-Card said. “For that reason the moral blameworthiness that should attach to this is high.”
Richard Green remembered
More than a dozen victim impact statements were submitted, with many read out in court by Crown counsel.
Family, friends and employees of the Country Rose Pub wrote of a man respected and loved. Brotherston was visibly emotional during the reading of the statements.
Emotions ran high in the courtroom as the victim’s son, Kevin Green, described the severe and irreversible damage his father’s death has caused.
He described the strong relationship that the two had, especially in recent years, and said he has not only lost his father but he has lost all of the time they would have spent together. Kevin Green said he still feels in shock and cannot grasp that his father is gone.
Outside of the courtroom, Kevin Green said he wished for a harsh sentence for Brotherston.
“The guy deserves life, I’m not going to beat around the bush,” Kevin Green said. “It’s not easy losing a parent.”