B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Judge dismisses second appeal of Victoria man who murdered unarmed man in 2010 botched robbery

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt has had two trials after his first appeal was granted

A Victoria man who murdered a mentally ill, unarmed man in 2010 will stay in custody after a judge dismissed his appeal of his second trial this week.

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt was convicted of murdering Leslie Hankel in 2012 after a jury found him guilty of breaking into Hankel’s home and shooting him on March 3, 2010. In 2015 Belcourt appealed the decision on the basis of errors in the jury instructions. That appeal was granted and a new trial was ordered. It was his second trial.

Belcourt admitted that he killed Hankel during the botched robbery, but the central issue was whether he intended to murder Hankel when a shotgun he was holding discharged into the other man’s head. Belcourt gave statements to the police shortly after he was arrested, along with testifying at the first trial and says the Crown used those transcripts improperly and prejudicially when he was cross-examined. Justice David Harris dismissed the appeal on Dec. 4 in a Vancouver courtroom.

READ ALSO: Amazon pulls Auschwitz ‘Christmas ornaments’ after protest

Michael Rennie, Belcourt’s stepfather provided the shotgun that killed Hankel. He testified during the first trial that Belcourt had used the gun in target practice just days before the murder took place, but was not called to testify during the second trial. Belcourt denies the target practice ever having taken place and argues Rennie is an unreliable witness.

READ ALSO: Appeal dismissed for B.C. man who assaulted woman in ‘thoroughly modern’ fight over phone

Belcourt and his accomplice, Sam McGrath, planned the robbery after being tipped off by Rennie that there was marijuana inside the apartment where Hankel lived alone. Hankel was sleeping when two men with shirts tied over their heads burst into his apartment. McGrath searched the apartment while Belcourt guarded Hankel, who had curled up in the corner. The shotgun went off unexpectedly and fired into the ceiling. Belcourt testified the second shot that went off was an accident. The men “freaked out” and fled the scene.

“The issue whether Mr. Belcourt had any experience using a shotgun before the death of Mr. Hankel was obviously important to Mr. Belcourt’s defence of accident and his credibility generally,” wrote Justice Harris in his reasons for judgment.

During the alleged improper questioning Crown counsel never specifically suggests Belcourt shot the same gun, only that he had shot a gun, which Justice Harris found to be in good-faith thus allowing the line of cross-examination.

“The cross‑examination was relatively lengthy, taking place over most of two days. It was persistent and at times arguably aggressive, but was not, in my view, personally abusive. It did not include the use of sarcastic tone, problematic requests to comment on the veracity of witnesses, editorialized comments, expressions of personal opinion, or any of the other defects that have led courts to order new trials in the past,” wrote Justice Harris.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fiddler on the Roof brings timely message to Oak Bay stage

Musical starts Friday in Dave Dunnet Theatre

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Saanich students get on board Walking School Bus

Rogers Elementary students led by teachers and Saanich Police in new initiative

City of Langford rebrands, announces several projects

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read