Kelowna judge rejects self defence argument, convicts man of aggravated assault

Convicted of bat assault

A B.C. Supreme Court judge did not believe George Young was acting in self defence when he struck another man multiple times with a baseball bat back in August 2021.

Following a two-week trial in February, Justice Geoffrey Gomery convicted Young of aggravated assault Friday morning, rejecting Young's defence that the victim in the assault was reaching for a gun.

In his decision, Justice Gomery said he was satisfied with witness accounts that Young struck Tyler Takeda several times out of anger, and not out of fear for his safety.

"I am persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Young's conduct after the first blow was struck grossly exceeded what was reasonable and proportionate in response to any threat presented by Mr. Takeda," Justice Gomery said.

"Mr. Young held the upper hand because he held a baseball bat and Mr. Takeda was unarmed. Mr. Young kept swinging."

Young's trial began back on Feb. 6, when the court was shown video of a part of the assault, which occurred on Aug. 14, 2021 in the Kelowna Econo Lodge parking lot.

In the video, Young can be seen striking another man, Tyler Takeda, with a small baseball bat twice, in the head area and the torso. He then is seen pacing around the parking lot with the bat, before leaving the scene.

The video only shows a portion of the altercation, and the crown alleges Young struck Takeda between three and five times. This belief comes from witness testimony and from the injuries Takeda suffered.

Young was arrested later than afternoon and he was charged with aggravated assault the next day.

The trial included testimony from several police officers, eyewitnesses, a doctor and Young himself. Notably, the victim Tyler Takeda refused to testify against Young.

Justice Gomery initially placed a sweeping publication ban on Young's testimony, at the request of Young, but the judge recently limited what the publication ban now covers.

In his defence, Young said he hit Takeda with the bat because Takeda had just threatened him with a gun.

Young testified that he had left his friend Aaron Bielak's nearby home and met Takeda in the parking lot to “diffuse the situation.” He said Takeda had threatened his friend Bielak over an alleged drug debt.

Young said when he approached Takeda, who was near a black truck, Takeda made eye contact with him and placed a gun on the truck's dashboard, to cause intimidation.

He said an associate of Takeda's initially had the baseball bat, but at some point the altercation became physical, and Young said he was able to wrestle the bat away from the man.

At this point, Young says Takeda said “F*** this, you’re toast buddy,” and began moving towards the gun that Young claims was in the vehicle.

He said he was forced to strike Takeda with the bat to defend himself.

“I knew, sure as s*** that he would have shot me if I turned my back or didn’t stop him,” Young testified.

During her closing submissions, Crown prosecutor Mallory Treddenick noted Young's main defence is that he was acting in self defence, or defence of others. But the only evidence that Takeda had a gun during the altercation came from Young, and she said Young is not a “reliable witness.”

“Overall, Mr. Young's testimony within this court was entirely self serving and inconsistent with the evidence,” Treddenick said. “It is not consistent with the eyewitness video, it is not consistent with the evidence of the three objective, impartial witnesses.

“In this case, the evidence overwhelmingly proves that Mr. Young was acting out of anger, not fear, not for protection.”

It appears that Justice Gomery agreed with Treddenick's assessment of Young's testimony.

Following Friday's conviction, a presentence psychiatric report was ordered, to assist the judge in sentencing. Young remains in custody at this time, but sentencing is not expected for at least a couple months.

Treddenick suggested that given Young's previous convictions, Crown will seek a dangerous offender status under section 753 of the Criminal Code. Before that, a Gladue report, which will provide context specific to an Indigenous offender's background, will be prepared.

Young is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He was previously convicted of criminal negligence causing death and failing to remain at the scene back in 2011.

Young had run over Joel Reimer in the early hours of New Year's Day 2010, following a fight between the two men.

He was initially charged with second-degree murder, but he took a plea deal with the Crown and was sentenced to 6.5 years.

Young's matter is scheduled to return to court May 29, when a further sentencing date is expected to be set.

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