Sentence a sign prison coming for most convicted rioters
A one-month jail term handed to a 20-year-old Surrey man for his role in last year's Stanley Cup riot is bad news for the dozens of others still awaiting their day in court and hoping to avoid prison.
Emmanuel Alviar pleaded guilty this spring to charges of mischief and participating in a riot, saying he was sorry for helping stir up mayhem downtown last June 15 after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Cup to the Boston Bruins.
It's the first sentence for a Cup rioter with no prior criminal record and it's being interpreted as a sign jail terms will be unescapable for most who follow.
Alviar, a drywaller and former choir singer, turned himself in to police early in the investigation after videos circulated online showing him pushing against a car that other rioters then destroyed, and later throwing a barricade at a window.
Provincial Court Judge Reg Harris took into account his remorse and guilty plea, but said the size, duration and damage done by the riot – as well as the fact it was the second one in Vancouver involving a hockey crowd – required a substantial deterrent.
Harris also gave Alviar 16 months probation, 150 hours of community service and ordered him to write apology letters to Vancouver's mayor and chief of police.
Alviar's lawyer said the sentence sets a probable floor of jail time for similar first-time offenders and all but rules out conditional sentences, which he had asked for on behalf of his client.
SFU criminologist Rob Gordon agreed.
"I think it's more likely than not," he said of jail for the rest. "It depends on who they are and what they've been doing in the past."
The only other rioter sentenced so far was Coquitlam resident Ryan Dickinson, who got 17 months in jail less three and a half months credit for time served, but he had a past record of assault.
Gordon noted some of Alviar's behaviour worked against him – he was seen at three different places during the riot over a period of hours when he was supposed to have been chaperoning four 14-year-olds.
But he said other accused rioters who didn't come forward early face long odds of avoiding jail.
"Those who did not put their hands up, those police had to chase, and those with prior convictions will be facing longer periods," he predicted. "I think a lot of people will be satisfied."
Gordon said it sends a clear message to future rioters.
Technically, he added, the one-month sentence is "fairly gentle" in light of the fact a conviction for participating in a riot can result in a prison term of years.
Charges expected against more than 300
Crown prosecutors have charged 104 accused rioters so far and police are seeking charges against at least 120 more.
The largest number charged so far – 44 – are from Surrey, followed by 38 from Vancouver, 27 from Burnaby, 19 from Richmond, 14 from North Vancouver, 11 from Delta, eight in Langley and seven each in Abbotsford and Maple Ridge.
"By the time we are done, we expect that we will exceed 300 persons charged with over 900 criminal charges," Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said.
"We believe this is the greatest number of people charged with a crime arising from one incident in Canadian history."
Chu called for public help in identifying 10 worst unidentified rioters through photos posted on the riot investigation website at riot2011.vpd.ca.
He said 14 of 15 rioters who attacked a Good Samaritan have now been identified and either face charges or remain under investigation.