A Canada Day picnic at a Burnaby park ended in a nightmare for a family of five last summer, thanks to a 25-year-old man who came to the park with his girlfriend and got blackout drunk.
Lucus Lawrence Wright was in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday to plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault.
The charge relates to an incident in Barnet Marine Park on July 1.
Family Day picnic
At about 9 p.m., Steven Breker, his wife, twin 17-year-old sons and seven-year old son were heading to the parking lot after a family picnic at the park when they heard “a scream and yelling” from a nearby car, according to information presented in court by Crown prosecutor Rosanne Sinclair.
They saw a woman inside the car and a man (later identified as Wright) outside it, but when Breker and one of his sons looked at Wright, he yelled, “What the f--- are you looking at? Mind your own business.”
The family was nervous, avoided further eye-contact and headed toward their Pathfinder.
After Wright left the parking lot on foot, however, Breker’s wife went over to check on the woman in the car (later identified as Wright’s then-girlfriend).
But Wright returned, yelling at Breker’s wife – “Get away from my car, you bitch. Get the f--- away from her. That’s none of your f---ing business.”
When Breker yelled at Wright not to talk to his wife that way, Wright came up to him, shouting “Mind your own f---ing business,” and yelling that he could beat him up.
Breker yelled at Wright to leave them alone. He told his family to get in the car and handed one of his sons his cell phone, telling him to call 911.
But Breker said that appeared to “enrage” Wright further.
At one point, Wright tried to climb into the vehicle, reaching towards the boys, but Breker pushed him away.
Then Wright came after Breker in earnest, punching him in the face and head between 10 to 15 times and breaking his jaw and cheekbone.
“In his statement to police, Mr. Breker described thinking he was going to be killed and was in fear for his life,” Sinclair said.
After he stopped punching Breker, Wright walked away to the beach, and police arrived shortly after.
Police said Wright was “clearly intoxicated” and had to be brought to the ground several times during his arrest.
Once he was in the police vehicle, he began kicking the window bars and spat on an officer.
‘I’m ashamed of myself’
In an apology letter to the Brekers, Wright said he had made a “huge mistake” and he was sorry for what he had done.
He said he and his girlfriend had gone to the park that day to have a picnic, a few drinks and go paddleboarding. Afterwards they’d planned to go to a fireworks celebration.
“Unfortunately the night didn’t go as planned. I ended up having too much to drink and ended up blacking out,” stated the letter.
Wright was on anti-depressants at the time of the assault and consumed 14 12-ounce cans of hard ice tea, according to a psychological report.
“July 1 was one of the biggest failures of my life and I’m ashamed of myself,” stated the apology letter.
Breker’s jaw had to be wired shut for a month after surgery to fix his face, according to victim impact statements presented in court, and his wife and sons were traumatized.
“As a mom, having to listen to the screams of my youngest son asking if his dad was going to die was devastating,” said Breker’s wife in her statement.
B.C. provincial court Judge Ellen Gordon called the assault “an horrific attack on a stranger.”
She noted the injuries to Breker were “significant” and he had to get physiotherapy to learn how to chew again.
But she also noted that – except for the Canada Day assault – the evidence showed Wright was a “very promising young man” with no criminal record and reference letters from employers that spoke “glowingly” of his commitment to his work as a crane operator and his prospects.
The psychological report stated Wright would be a low risk to reoffend if he dealt with his alcohol issues.
He has been sober since July 1, attended numerous virtual Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and gotten counselling.
Gordon said Wright has also shown genuine remorse for his actions through his guilty plea, his apology letter and his comments to the court.
“I have no doubt, sir, how much you hate yourself for what you did.”
She handed him a three-month conditional sentence (a jail sentence served in the community), with an 8 p.m.-to-4 a.m. curfew, 25 hours of community work service and a ban on alcohol and non-prescription drugs, followed by two years of probation.
During his sentence and probation, Wright will have to keep getting counselling.
He is not allowed to have any contact with the Brekers, and he is banned from possessing any firearms or other weapons.
Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor