The 'quarterback' of a vicious sucker punch has lost his appeal.

Bar attack appeal dismissed

A Kelowna man who was convicted of “quarterbacking” a vicious sucker punch outside Sapphire nightclub five years ago has lost his appeal of the conviction, but he's yet to serve his sentence.

Steven Kaplan was handed an eight-month jail sentence in 2017 for orchestrating the September 2014 attack that left a young man in coma with a fractured skull.

The alcohol-fueled altercation began earlier in the evening of Sept. 6, 2014, when Michael Martin was involved in two consensual fights with Kaplan outside of the Liquid Zoo.

After the fights, Martin and a friend made their way to Sapphire Nightclub a block away. Kaplan followed them to the bar, and was seen on surveillance footage talking to a bouncer at the club, Kyle O'Brien.

O'Brien then went inside the bar, and dragged Martin outside in a chokehold. Surveillance footage showed Kaplan having a few words with Martin outside, before walking to a nearby alley to meet Steven Kollie, a much larger man.

Kaplan then returns to Martin and engages him in conversation, while Kollie walks up from behind and punches Martin in the face, knocking him out before he collapses to the ground, fracturing his skull when he hits the pavement.

Following the attack, Kaplan told police it “wasn’t meant to go that far,” and “I didn’t mean to hurt you that bad.”

In 2017, Justice Allan Betton ruled Kaplan was a party to the aggravated assault, while O'Brien was less complicit, and guilty of just assault.

Betton interpreted Kaplan's apology to the officer as evidence that Kaplan knew Kollie planned to assault Martin. As a result, Kaplan was sentenced to eight months of jail time while O'Brien was given 12 months of probation.

Kollie, meanwhile, was convicted of the aggravated assault in 2016, and handed a five-year sentence, with 644 days of pre-sentence credit.

Kaplan has yet to serve his eight-month sentence though, after appealing both the conviction itself and the sentence length.

He argued Justice Betton erred in assuming Kaplan could have foreseen the extent of injury Martin would suffer from Kollie's assault, but Justice Anne McKenzie disagreed.

“In planning it, (Kaplan) had recruited a larger man to assault Mr. Martin and clearly to inflict upon Mr. Martin a more significant assault than (Kaplan) had earlier inflicted on Mr. Martin,” McKenzie ruled. “It is unrealistic to suggest that (Kaplan) recruited Mr. Kollie to inflict less harm than (Kaplan) himself had already inflicted.”

Kaplan has yet to serve his sentence, but he remains out of custody for now, as he's also appealing his sentence.

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