B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Judge dismisses second appeal of Victoria man who murdered unarmed man in 2010 botched robbery

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt has had two trials after his first appeal was granted

A Victoria man who murdered a mentally ill, unarmed man in 2010 will stay in custody after a judge dismissed his appeal of his second trial this week.

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt was convicted of murdering Leslie Hankel in 2012 after a jury found him guilty of breaking into Hankel’s home and shooting him on March 3, 2010. In 2015 Belcourt appealed the decision on the basis of errors in the jury instructions. That appeal was granted and a new trial was ordered. It was his second trial.

Belcourt admitted that he killed Hankel during the botched robbery, but the central issue was whether he intended to murder Hankel when a shotgun he was holding discharged into the other man’s head. Belcourt gave statements to the police shortly after he was arrested, along with testifying at the first trial and says the Crown used those transcripts improperly and prejudicially when he was cross-examined. Justice David Harris dismissed the appeal on Dec. 4 in a Vancouver courtroom.

READ ALSO: Amazon pulls Auschwitz ‘Christmas ornaments’ after protest

Michael Rennie, Belcourt’s stepfather provided the shotgun that killed Hankel. He testified during the first trial that Belcourt had used the gun in target practice just days before the murder took place, but was not called to testify during the second trial. Belcourt denies the target practice ever having taken place and argues Rennie is an unreliable witness.

READ ALSO: Appeal dismissed for B.C. man who assaulted woman in ‘thoroughly modern’ fight over phone

Belcourt and his accomplice, Sam McGrath, planned the robbery after being tipped off by Rennie that there was marijuana inside the apartment where Hankel lived alone. Hankel was sleeping when two men with shirts tied over their heads burst into his apartment. McGrath searched the apartment while Belcourt guarded Hankel, who had curled up in the corner. The shotgun went off unexpectedly and fired into the ceiling. Belcourt testified the second shot that went off was an accident. The men “freaked out” and fled the scene.

“The issue whether Mr. Belcourt had any experience using a shotgun before the death of Mr. Hankel was obviously important to Mr. Belcourt’s defence of accident and his credibility generally,” wrote Justice Harris in his reasons for judgment.

During the alleged improper questioning Crown counsel never specifically suggests Belcourt shot the same gun, only that he had shot a gun, which Justice Harris found to be in good-faith thus allowing the line of cross-examination.

“The cross‑examination was relatively lengthy, taking place over most of two days. It was persistent and at times arguably aggressive, but was not, in my view, personally abusive. It did not include the use of sarcastic tone, problematic requests to comment on the veracity of witnesses, editorialized comments, expressions of personal opinion, or any of the other defects that have led courts to order new trials in the past,” wrote Justice Harris.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Victoria Regional Transit System routes 7 UVic/Downtown, 21 Interurban/Downtown and 53 Colwood/Langford will undergo changes as of June 28. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria school routes scaled down for summer by BC Transit

Service changes take effect June 28, enhanced service returns this fall and winter

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Most Read