Cordell Peter Dame and a friend were walking away from a disagreement when they were attacked in Maple Ridge last May.
Alouette Taxi driver and manager George Nestor testified Monday that he saw the incident unfold when he arrived to pick the two men up after they’d spent the evening at Shooters Bar.
Trevor Harding of Tipperary, Ireland, is charged with aggravated assault. His trial is being held in B.C. Provincial Court in Port Coquitlam.
Nestor said he received a call from Tim Toth, who was a regular customer, on May 1, 2011 shortly after 2 a.m. and drove to meet him and Dame at a Husky gas station on Dewdney Trunk Road near the bar.
As he approached, Nestor saw Toth and Dame walking toward him along Dewdney Trunk. He also noticed three men on the other side of the road. The five men appeared to be talking or yelling at each other.
When he parked at the gas station, Nestor saw that the three men had crossed the road. Dame and one of the men from the other group were talking in raised voices and pushing each other.
“It was apparent there was some kind of argument going on,” Nestor said.
Nestor said he honked his horn to get the attention of Toth and Dame. He heard Toth yell, “C’mon, let’s go. George is here,” and walk toward the taxi. Dame followed.
The three men followed. When they got close to the car, the man Dame had been arguing with grabbed Dame’s shoulder, turned him around and punched him in the face, Nestor said.
“I could hear the punch. It was really loud,” Nestor said.
Dame was knocked off his feet and fell to the ground.
One of the other men punched Toth who also fell down.
Nestor said that was when he got out of his car and yelled at the men. As he opened his door, the man who punched Dame also kicked him as he lay on the ground.
Nestor heard the man say, “He won’t fight.”
“I said, ‘The fight’s over. There is no more fight,’ “ Nestor said, and he threatened to call the police. “They just turned around and walked away.”
When Nestor realized how badly Dame was injured, he called 911.
Dame spent 37 days in a coma at Royal Columbian Hospital. He is now in a wheelchair.
Defence lawyer John Cheevers suggested that Nestor had no independent recollection of what happened that night and challenged what Nestor said he saw take place.
Crown prosecutor Peter Ng said in his opening statement that the main issue is whether the defence of self-defence is available to Harding.
The trial is expected to last five days.
-Jen Saltman is with The Province