City Wide Taxi owner Peter Gulliver testified at his own trial in provincial court Thursday, saying he may have gotten irate during a dispute over a motorcycle battery last year, but not irate enough to commit any crimes.
Judge Colin Flynn agreed on one point but disagreed on the other, acquitting Gulliver of a robbery charge, but finding him guilty of threatening an employee of Canadian Energy in July 2016.
Gulliver, 58, had purchased a battery for his motorcycle from Canadian Energy about a month earlier, and said it had given him trouble from the beginning. He had gone for a drive to C.B.S. and his motorcycle had broken down, he testified. When he boosted the bike, he got only a few metres with it before it cut out again.
Gulliver brought the battery back to the business for testing to determine if he could get a new one under warranty.
Canadian Energy employee Alexander Lucas testified the battery had passed the check and he had done another test in front of Gulliver with the same result. Gulliver disagreed that the result was good enough to power his bike.
“He was saying, ‘What if I’m out of town and I break down, are you going to pay for a tow truck?’ I told him no, it doesn’t work like that,” Lucas told the court. “Then it got ugly.”
Crown prosecutor Jude Hall played a surveillance video from Canadian Energy for the court. Gulliver is seen standing at the counter with Lucas sitting behind it, and as the pair talk, Gulliver appears to get upset. The video, which has no audio, shows Gulliver repeatedly pointing his finger toward Lucas, coming around the counter twice and thrusting his finger close to Lucas’s face, and raising his fist at one point.
Lucas testified Gulliver had told him, “I should f---ing give it to you.”
“What did you take that to mean?” Hall asked Lucas.
“That he would punch me in the face,” Lucas replied, adding Gulliver had walked back to the front of the counter, picked up the battery and slammed it down, saying, “I’ll slam this over your head.”
Lucas said he went to get a new battery and gave it to Gulliver, fearful there would be an altercation and feeling threatened.
Gulliver, taking the stand, said he had gotten frustrated, since it was clear to him that the battery was faulty and Canadian Energy had advertised the “best warranty guaranteed.”
“I never made no suggestion I was going to assault anybody,” Gulliver testified, adding he often expresses himself with his hands when talking. “I was frustrated. I said, look, we’re arguing over a $130 battery.”
Gulliver said he told Lucas, “Give me a new battery or give me my money back.”
Gulliver landed the robbery charge when he took the new battery Lucas gave him.
“Mr. Lucas clearly had no choice,” Hall told the court. “He was getting his battery or his money. Mr. Gulliver was denied his warranty, so he was taking it by force.
“That’s a robbery, your honour, granted not the kind we usually see.”
Defence lawyer John McGrath said without audio, the surveillance video didn’t give a sufficient depiction of what went on during the incident.
In bringing down his verdict, Flynn found Gulliver had an honest belief that he was entitled to a new battery under warranty and had no intention to steal it.
On the charge of uttering threats, he gave Gulliver a suspended sentence and three months of probation.