The man who attempted to kill a rival by shooting him through the windshield of a vehicle in the Tim Hortons drive-thru was sentenced to 9.5 years in jail in BC Supreme Court on Monday.
Riding a longboard, Beau Clark followed Shaun Dalke who was driving a compact pickup on Aug. 10, 2015. While Dalke was at the takeout window, Clark put down his board, pulled out a Luger pistol, walked towards the truck and fired once through the windshield, striking Dalke in the neck.
He tried to fire a second time through the side window but the gun apparently jammed.
After seven hours of deliberation and a five-day trial, a jury convicted Clark on Dec. 13, 2016 of attempted murder.
Crown counsel asked for 12 to 15 years in prison, while Clark’s lawyer Chris Terepocki asked for an eight-to-10-year sentence.
In court on Monday, Justice Neill Brown outlined the mitigating and aggravating factors, while going through case law. Brown spent a considerable amount of time addressing the Gladue principle, which looks at an offender’s indigenous heritage.
And while Brown explained the Supreme Court of Canada’s Gladue decision, which does not mean indigenous status is automatically a mitigating factor, Clark’s grandmother’s traumatic experiences at residential schools had an effect on his upbringing. Clark’s mother is from the Lower Nicola Band and his grandmother is a sexual abuse survivor of the residential schools.
Brown agreed there were “intergenerational consequences,” and that Clark’s grandmother’s experiences, filtered through his mother, “indirectly, negatively impacted his life experience.”
The incident almost two years ago emerged out of a longstanding feud between the two men at least in part over a woman, Sara Andrews, who was sitting next to Dalke at the time of the shooting.
Dalke was driving his mother’s pickup when they stopped for coffee at the drive-thru at Eagle Landing. After the shooting, Dalke drove away to Chilliwack General Hospital. He was left bloodied, with five nine-millimetre bullet fragments in his neck and chin.
In the months leading up to the shooting, Clark had an on-again-off-again, drug-fuelled relationship with Andrews. Dalke, a man himself with serious criminal convictions in his past, knew Clark from years prior. The jury was told how the two men did not get along, and Clark claimed that on at least one occasion Dalke pointed a gun at him.
Clark’s lawyer painted a picture of a multi-year dispute, previous threats with a handgun by Dalke and his brother on Clark, and a conflict waiting to happen.
“I’ve been anticipating for weeks that something was going to happen between me and Dalke,” Clark told the court when he took the stand last year.
There was no intent to kill, Terepocki argued, the crucial element in proving attempted murder, because Clark ran into Dalke that day by chance, seeing him in the truck with Andrews at Eagle Landing while he was out on his longboard.
Clark testified that he decided to go to confront Dalke in the drive-thru and then panicked when, he claimed, Dalke revved the vehicle and grinded the gears.
This was not attempted murder because the shot was fired, so argued the defence, in the heat of the moment.
The jury disagreed with defence’s arguments, and instead accepted the picture painted by the Crown, which was based on physical evidence, the testimony of Dalke and Andrews, and Facebook messages leading up to the incident.
Not only did Dalke begin dating Andrews in August 2015 right after Clark and Andrews had their final breakup, Clark threatened Dalke with gun violence on at least one occasion.
A string of Facebook exchanges and text messages show a man desperate to get his girlfriend back, and angry about their latest in a long line of challenges in what he called a “toxic relationship.”
Key among the evidence for motive was detailed comments about Clark’s anger issues and his frustration with the relationship. Add to that his ongoing disdain for Dalke since a time before either man had even met Andrews.
Then there was the crime itself. The jury was shown a surveillance video of Clark walking towards the pickup in the drive-thru, pulling a gun out of a handbag and firing one shot into the windshield. He then is seen to go around to the driver’s side and point the gun into the truck.
What happens next was the subject of some dispute at trial. Clark claimed he just pointed the gun after being put into a panic, but Crown alleged he tried to fire again and the gun jammed. A firearms expert testified about a number of elements of the incident, including the two-handed motion needed to cock a handgun manually, something that Clark appears to do on the video.
The gun was never found.
Both Dalke and Andrews provided victim impact statements to the court. Andrews said she has anxiety and fear and seldom goes outdoors. Dalke said he fears Clark’s acquaintances may try to kill him again, and he said the bullet fragments still in his neck make the incident impossible to forget.
“He feels the bullets and it reminds him of that every day,” Brown said in reading his decision.
In handing down the 9.5 year sentence, Clark was given credit for approximately 34.5 months in pretrial custody at the standard time-and-a-half ratio.
Brown said that he felt there were “some decent prospects for his rehabilitation.”
Clark had no reaction to the sentence in court on Monday.