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

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Custom House construction site in Victoria

Government Street remains closed as investigation continues

VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

League awaiting final approval from local health authorities and viaSport

Netflix, Warner Bros filming 10-part series in Colwood

Filming takes place now until March 2021

Saanich explores options for adding shelters to parks

Covered areas would encourage safe outdoor socializing during rainy season

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Nanaimo RCMP shut down illegal racing and stunt driving site

Police “swoop in” to seize vehicles and issue violation tickets

Most Read