Cowichan Valley man found not guilty of manslaughter in 2020 death

Cowichan Valley man found not guilty of manslaughter in 2020 death

A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has found a Cowichan Valley man not guilty of manslaughter.

The ruling came down Friday, following a 10-day trial surrounding the death of Rick Henry after a house party in January 2020.

It was an alcohol-fuelled fight that was, according to the B.C. Supreme Court Justice’s decision, initiated by Henry.

The accused, Andrew Steve Alphonse, and the deceased, Rick Henry, were both at a house party on Malaqw Road on Cowichan Tribes land on Jan. 19, 2020 that spilled into the early hours of Jan. 20.

According to the court, at one point Henry, who had previously been in a romantic relationship with a woman Alphonse was dating, wanted to fight Alphonse. Alphonse said he didn’t want to fight many times, according to numerous witnesses.

Someone at the party managed to get Henry out of the home and they locked the doors, but witnesses testified Henry threw a beer through an open window at Alphonse, saying he would be waiting outside and later trying the home’s doors. The court heard that Henry had a history of getting angry, jealous and violent when he was drinking alcohol.

Later that night, after Alphonse went to sleep on a cot in the living room, Henry got into the home and started yelling that he wanted a fight, and hit Alphonse twice while he was in the cot.

Alphonse, who testified during the trial, said again he didn’t want to fight but Henry attacked him and a fight ensued, with Alphonse getting the upper hand.

An autopsy determined the cause of death was multiple severe blunt strikes to the head and neck. Alphonse propped Henry on his side so he wouldn’t choke on blood and left. More than an hour later Alphonse told someone what happened and they called 911.

During her two-hour oral decision, Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McDonald found there was no history of a troubled relationship between the two previously, despite the two having known and worked with each other in the past.

McDonald concluded she has “a reasonable doubt that the nature and the proportionality of the accused’s response to the deceased’s use of force was unreasonable in the circumstances.”

Police arrested Alphonse in the Cowichan Valley just over two years ago and he was charged with manslaughter.

Henry’s family was upset by the outcome but declined an on-camera interview.

Alphonse’s lawyer said the decision was in line with his view of the events, but he and Alphonse also both declined on-camera interviews.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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