B.C.’s Prosecution Service (BCPS) is maintaining confidentiality about court security in the wake of a Feb. 2 assault on a Crown prosecutor but confirmed a private security company has been let go.
The government also remains mum on why the accused’s file remains locked down in the provincial Court Services Online database, a departure from usual practice for an assault charge.
The prosecutor was attacked Feb. 2 as she walked with a security officer to Vancouver’s provincial courthouse at 222 Main Street.
The attack occurred about 9 a.m. with witnesses at the scene saying another related attack had just happened a block away. Ambulances were parked within half a block of each other for the incidents.
The prosecutor was taken to hospital.
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) did not issue a news release on the attack but did tweet out that a man had been charged with three assaults.
However, Kenyen Thomas Lavallee has been charged with two assaults, according to court documents.
Both victims were women.
Sources have told Glacier Media a jail guard was either punched in the face or spat on but there has been no charges on that.
It was an incident that Premier David Eby said left him "profoundly disturbed.” He said he has asked Attorney General Niki Sharma to look into increased security.
Courthouse sources have told Glacier Media prosecutors are now being met at a private parkade and escorted to the building with a new vehicle.
That has been the case with other courthouse workers including judges for some time — but not Crown counsel.
The BCPS, however, won’t confirm what measures are being taken to protect people.
“The BCPS does not release details about specific security arrangements for its employees, but I can say that there is a multi-pronged approach to security at the Vancouver provincial courthouse at 222 Main St. — BC Sheriff Service, in-house security personnel and, at the time of this incident, private security,” BCPS spokesperson Damienne Darby told Glacier Media. “All staff who work at the courthouse (Crown counsel, registry staff, etc.) have access to these services.”
The prosecutor who was attacked was accompanied by an employee of a private security firm, Garda Canada Security Corporation, at the time of the attack.
The guard at the scene of the attack would not comment on what happened.
Glacier Media has asked the prosecution service why private security is used and what the value of the contract for that service is.
“We cannot release the details of private contracts dealing with safety and security,” Darby said.
However, the province’s public accounts payments for 2022-23 show the company receiving $29,184 for that fiscal year. There are no details in those accounts indicating if that money was for the 222 Main St. courthouse.
Darby confirmed Garda has now been let go.
The attack scene
Ambulances were at both assault scenes as were many VPD officers and members of the BC Sheriff Service.
The prosecutor lay crumpled under a blanket on the pavement outside 145 East Cordova as people gave her first aid while awaiting paramedics.
Several lightly bloodied towels could be seen.
Glacier Media has opted not to publish the victims’ names given the nature of their work and location.
Crown counsel fears
B.C.'s Crown Counsel Association represents the province's 450 prosecutors.
On Feb. 5, president Adam Dalrymple said it was time to move the province's largest courthouse given safety fears around the building a block from Hastings and Main.
"Friday’s attack reinforces the chronic street disorder in the neighbourhood, and it raises real concerns about overall public safety because without that how can you ensure that justice is safe and accessible for victims and witnesses who come to court and don’t get security to walk them to the courthouse?" he said.
"That things are so bad that people working in the courthouse need security to walk them to work speaks volumes and reinforces the danger that has grown out of the serious addiction and mental health issues hurting the Downtown Eastside," he said.
Dalrymple said a courthouse is a pillar of the provincial justice system and shouldn’t have to be a fortress to carry out its work.
“Our association has been raising safety and security issues related to the Downtown Eastside with the provincial government for years, but it’s time for a serious discussion about whether Vancouver’s Main Street courthouse should be relocated to a safer neighbourhood that poses less of a threat to the public,” he said. “Moving a courthouse out of a neighbourhood for safety reasons would be a last resort, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the very real threat to the public and those who work there.”