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‘No regard for our law’: Crown wants Kelowna ‘Freedom Fighter’ sentenced to jail

David Lindsay, a leader of Kelowna’s self-proclaimed “Freedom Fighters,” has been found guilty of assaulting security guards while trying to enter an Interior Health building
David Lindsay (right) and two of his supporters outside the Kelowna Courthouse on March. 1. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

A Kelowna Provincial courtroom was flooded with about 100 people on April 12, as a leader of Kelowna’s self-proclaimed group of “Freedom Fighters”, was to be sentenced after being found guilty of assault.

David Lindsay represented himself during his own sentencing hearing, and he alongside Crown prosecutor David Grabavac delivered closing submissions to Judge Cathaline Heinrichs in front of the very full courtroom.

However, Lindsay did not hear his sentence this Friday and a court date will be set for a continuation of submissions.

Last December, Lindsay was found guilty of two counts of assault stemming from an altercation that took place in front of Kelowna’s downtown Interior Health building on Aug. 19, 2021.

At the time, Lindsay had been banned from the Interior Health building in relation to previous protests that he had organized and his unwillingness to wear a mask, despite the COVID-19 mandates that were in place at the time.

The assault was recorded by several people and footage of the incident was played for the court on multiple occasions throughout Lindsay’s lengthy trial.

In the footage, two security guards – who were blocking the entrance to the building – could be heard telling Lindsay that he was not allowed to enter.

READ MORE: ‘I will arrest you’: Kelowna protester charged with assault told not to enter Interior Health

In the videos, a security guard is heard saying “You can do your demonstration out on the street,” to which Lindsay responded, “I disagree, I have a right of access.”

Lindsay can then be seen walking forward into three security guards – including former Paladin Security branch manager Jason Davis and the manager of security with Interior Health Greg Smith – and bumps into them.

Lindsay was arrested by RCMP and subsequently charged with assault.

Throughout the trial, Lindsay maintained that he did not assault the men. Rather, Lindsay told the court that he was the one who was assaulted.

“They physically blocked my entrance and assaulted me… They put themselves in harm’s way.”

Lindsay alleged that he was unlawfully banned from entering the building and said it was a violation of his Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Lindsay said he regrets his actions.

“I do regret trying to walk into the building. It is due to a misunderstanding of the law that I thought I had a right to enter the building,” said Lindsay, to Judge Heinrichs.

Lindsay told the court he had learned his lesson and now understands the law as it relates to being banned from buildings.

Additionally, Lindsay told Judge Heinrichs that the use of force in the assault was minimal and referred to it as a light touch. He submits that sentencing should reflect the lack of violence and minimal force.

However, Crown prosecutor Grabavac submitted that rather than sentencing Lindsay based on the severity of the assault, Judge Heinrichs should consider the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Grabavac stated that it is the totality of the situation, which included a crowd of protesters that impeded people’s access to health services, the fact that Lindsay was attempting to enter the building, alongside he was not wearing a mask, despite health mandates, and his defiance of authority “makes this a very serious offence.”

Crown then submitted that the crowd of protesters who were impeding people’s access to the health services building was one of the factors that made the situation more concerning for both employees of Interior Health and the public.

Four victim impact statements were read to the court. In the statements, both security officers Davis and Smith allege that the assault has “negatively impacted” their lives.

The victims also allege that they have been “harassed” by Lindsay’s supporters in public and online since the incident.

“Mr. Lindsay did not act alone. He had a number of people backing him up, just like typical bullies do,” said Grabavac.

The allegation drew a collection of displeased murmurs from Lindsay’s supporters in the courtroom.

Grabavac asked the Judge to consider the totality of the circumstances when delivering sentencing, rather than focusing on the severity and physicality of the assault. Grabavac has suggested that Lindsay be sentenced to the maximum penalty of two years less a day in custody, followed by a lengthy period of probation.

Grabavac said Lindsay knew he was not welcome inside the building.

“It is a clear and utter defiance of authority… Mr Lindsay has no regard for our law and no regard for authority,” said Grabavac.

“There is no chance of rehabilitation for him. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks,” said Grabavac about the 60-year-old “vexatious litigant.”

Lindsay was declared a vexatious litigant in 2006, in relation to numerous court cases that he has been involved in.

Lindsay represented himself throughout the lengthy trial which began on March 1, 2023. The trial was snarled by delays right from the beginning involving issues with video footage to disagreements regarding what ought to be considered relevant to the trial.

On the first day of the trial, issues arose immediately when Lindsay and those who wished to enter the courtroom, including his supporters, were subject to a bag search before entering the courtroom.

At the time, Lindsay called the search a “constitutional violation,” and refused to participate in the trial, telling Judge Heinrichs that she can “talk to the hand.”

READ MORE: ‘Talk to the hand’: Kelowna protest leader refuses to participate in assault trial

Later in the trial, before Lindsay was found guilty, he accused Crown prosecutor Grabavac and Judge Heinrichs of conspiring against him.

At one point during the trial, Lindsay dared Judge Heinrichs to find him in contempt of court. Contempt refers to acts of disobedience and disrespect toward a court of law.

Heinrichs said that she found Lindsay’s dare to be contemptuous, but granted him a chance to apologize ahead of sentencing. The matter of contempt will be addressed at the next scheduled court date.

An additional half day will be scheduled for the completion of the sentencing hearing.

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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