Vernon man not guilty of assault last year at 'protest corner'

Not guilty of protest assault

A Vernon man has been found not guilty in a high-profile assault from last year.

Kelsey Moffatt, 53, was on trial in a Vernon court room this week for an assault charge stemming from an Oct. 1, 2022, incident near "protest corner" at Polson Park.

Moffatt was alleged to have assaulted Korry Zepik, 66, who spent many Saturdays at the corner among the protesters carrying signs opposing their views.

The three-day trial wrapped up Friday with provincial court Justice George Leven rendering the not guilty verdict.

Leven said there is no question an altercation happened between Moffatt and Zepik, but Crown Counsel James Bagan failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Moffatt assaulted Zepik.

“There's no question based on the evidence there was a scuffle. There is no question Mr. Zepik engaged physically with Mr. Moffatt,” Leven said, noting Zepik grabbed Moffatt's hand and grabbed him from behind.

Zepik was the first to engage in the physical confrontation, raising a self defence argument for Moffatt, the court found.

Leven said he took witness statements into account, but added some witnesses were credible while others were not.

Leven also noted some inconsistencies in Zepik's own version of events.

Leven said he found a witness for the defence to be credible who stated Zepik initiated the altercation and that he saw Zepik throw punches at Moffat.

Moffatt also struck Zepik, but said earlier in the trial he was flailing his arms and struck Zepik.

During the altercation, Zepik was pushing Moffatt off of him, placing his fingers in Moffatt's eyes, causing Moffatt to not be able to see.

“The Crown says Mr. Moffatt should have been able to remove himself from the situation, but Mr. Moffatt testified that with the fingers in his eyes that he was in pain and couldn't extricate himself,” Leven said.

Leven added “I cannot say I accept Mr. Moffatt's evidence, however, considering all of the evidence” he was left with a reasonable doubt which was enough to acquit the accused.

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