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B.C. man gets 4 years for ‘unprovoked’ assault on squatter with a metal pipe

‘Violent’ nature of assault an aggravating factor, judge wrote in reasons for sentence
Robert Macaskill was sentenced to four years in jail on Nov. 14 for aggravated assault. (RCMP Crime Stoppers photo)

Robert Troy Macaskill was given a four-year jail sentence for aggravated assault in the Chilliwack Law Courts on Nov. 14.

The sentence handed down by B.C. Supreme Court Judge Ardith Walkem was in connection with an “unprovoked and violent” assault on Frank Paul, that left him crumpled on the ground, head bloodied.

The assault was Feb. 24, 2019, when the victim sustained a series of serious injuries at the hands of Macaskill, including a broken leg, arm and shoulder and a fractured skull.

Paul had let himself into the upper unit of a two-storey home on Corbould Street, where Macaskill lived downstairs. Paul, who was homeless and struggling with substances, had stayed there previously and came back to stay there on a cold, winter night.

The second floor was vacant, but Macaskill testified during the trial that he had grown frustrated with frequent squatters gaining access.

When Macaskill found Paul that morning, with syringes on the bed, he tried to kick Paul out. The smaller man was apologetic, but it didn’t de-escalate.

“Mr. Macaskill struck Mr. Paul in the lower leg with a metal pipe, resulting in severe injury,” the judge wrote.

The accused had pleaded not guilty, and had told police he had used “the side of his foot” to kick Paul out of the bed. He said any injuries came Paul from falling down the stairs, but the judge’s decision followed the scenario that it was due to being hit with a metal pipe instead.

“That initial blow caused injuries so severe that Mr. Paul was unable to walk, causing him to fall down the stairs,” Justice Walkem wrote. “He was then, only capable of leaving by pulling himself on his hands, and crawling out of the unit.”

The injured man was followed out of the house, where the accused continued to strike him.

“Mr. Paul made it to the end of the driveway where he remained. During this time, Mr. Macaskill tried to get Mr. Paul to leave, before there was a need to call the police. For some time, Mr. Paul was crumpled on the ground, in very cold conditions.

“Mr. Paul was unable to walk, due to the injuries he had sustained, with his head bloodied.

“Help only came when passersby stopped and called 911, and offered Mr. Paul a tarp to cover up with.”

Sentencing recommendations that came forth from Crown counsel and defence had been “quite disparate,” Justice Walkem wrote in her reasons for sentence.

The Crown had been looking at six to eight years in jail, while defence recommended a conditional sentence of 18 to 24 months, to be served within the community through Joshua House, a recovery centre where he was a resident.

Justice Walkem noted several aggravating factors including “the unprovoked and violent nature of the assault” as well as use of a weapon; and “the significant and life‑altering nature of the injuries” suffered by Mr. Paul, including the ongoing hearing loss and anxiety he suffers, and the fact that he has faced an ongoing road of surgeries and treatment, and has still not fully recovered.

Macaskill’s extensive criminal history, was also considered, which has included other assaults, and one assault, which happened after this one, along with the fact that that criminal history includes breaches and failure to comply with conditions.

“I have taken it very seriously that Mr. Paul, so injured that he could not walk, and with his skull fractured, pulled himself using his hands, and crawling across the ground, in an attempt to get off the property,” Walkem wrote.

“He was left to suffer like that, in that injured condition on the side of the road, until a passerby offered help.”

The judge acknowledged that Macaskill had expressed remorse for the “dehumanizing way” in which he called Paul a “junkie”, and expressed sorrow for the harm he caused to his victim and his family.

Mitigating factors included the sobriety progress made by Macaskill, and his remorse for the harms.

“He is doing well at the Joshua House, and has received supportive letters, and is contributing toward that community that he is a part of,” the judge wrote.

The sentence was four years in jail, with the equivalent of about 100 days of time served, with weapons conditions and DNA samples required.

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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