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Case against officers accused of assaulting senior should be tossed, say lawyers

Keith Booker, 77, was allegedly assaulted by Transit Police Const. Ken Jansen and RCMP Const. Mitchell Spears (below) in 2010. Spears is also accused of using a Taser on the senior. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Keith Booker, 77, was allegedly assaulted by Transit Police Const. Ken Jansen and RCMP Const. Mitchell Spears (below) in 2010. Spears is also accused of using a Taser on the senior.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

The lawyers for a Surrey RCMP officer and a Transit Police member accused of assaulting a Surrey senior nearly three years ago want the charges stayed because the case has taken too long to get to trial.

Const. Mitchell Spears was charged with one count of assault and one of assault with a weapon for allegedly using a Taser on a 73-year-old man in April 2010.

Const. Ken Jansen, with the South Coast of B.C. Transportation Authority Police Service, faces one count of assault in connection with the same incident.

Surrey resident Keith Booker, who is now 77, was arrested under the Mental Health Act after reportedly causing a disturbance at his home. He had a knife. He was transported to hospital for assessment.

It was there that the officers allegedly assaulted the senior, who also suffered a cut to his face that required stitches.

Both officers were suspended.

David Butcher, defence lawyer for Jansen, called the 29-month delay in getting to trial "unreasonable" and said nothing his client did contributed to the delay.

The trial date was fixed in March 2011, and was set for 15 months later – a wait that has now become routine in the chronically backlogged Surrey Provincial Court. A further, seven-month delay was the result of new evidence that surfaced, including a video.

Butcher said it was unclear if the problem was caused by police or Crown prosecutors' office.

"It doesn't matter," he told Judge Ronald Lamperson. "There was a breakdown in the police or the Crown process."

Lawyer Jack Harris, defending Spears, agreed the trial delay was beyond acceptable limits and violated his client's right to be tried in a reasonable amount of time.

Booker, who wasn't permitted inside the courtroom, said he'd be disappointed if the case is tossed out.

"You're damn rights I'll be upset," Booker said.

"I don't think it's fair that I don't get to sit there and listen," he added, referring to having yelled inside the courthouse earlier in the day. "I want to be heard!"

Spears and Jansen are due back in court April 2.

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