A Vancouver provincial court judge ruled Friday that although an Abbotsford man’s involvement in the Stanley Cup riot of 2011 was “completely out of character,” a jail term was necessary to adequately address the nature of his offence.
Judge Connie Bagnall sentenced Luke Patillo, 21, to a 45-day intermittent term to be served on weekends. Patillo was handcuffed in court to serve the first day of his sentence, while some family members who were there to support him broke down.
Patillo, wearing a blue dress shirt and dark pants, remained composed throughout the proceedings.
Patillo pleaded guilty on June 29 to a charge of taking part in a riot. Three other charges – one count of mischief and two counts of break-and-enter – were stayed.
Crown had recommended a sentence of four to six months, while defence counsel had suggested a conditional sentence (house arrest).
Bagnall said mitigating factors in sentencing included that Patillo had no previous criminal record; that he has wide family and community support; and that he took “complete responsibility for his actions.”
Bagnall quoted portions of a letter of apology that Patillo had written and which was previously submitted to the court.
“My actions caused a terrible amount of damage to the city, the extent of which I could never repay … What I did cannot be undone and I wish to offer my deepest regret and sincerest apology to the citizens of Vancouver,” the letter stated.
Patillo’s participation in the riot of June 15, 2011 began soon after the activities started and continued until about 11 p.m., the judge said.
This included entering through the broken windows of the Black and Lee Tuxedo Rental store on West Georgia Street and stealing a pair of pants, which he threw into a burning car.
Patillo then walked to a street-level parkade, where he and a group of about 12 others attempted to overturn a Hummer H2. They were unsuccessful, but the vehicle was destroyed, and Patillo reached through one of the broken windows and removed an item, which he threw into the crowd.
Next, he assisted others as they tried to overturn a BMW. The car was not overturned, but it was set on fire. Bagnall said Patillo posed in front of the burning vehicle, “smiling and making a triumphant gesture” while his photo was taken.
Lastly, he was among dozens of people that entered the London Drugs store at West Georgia and Granville and stole some small items.
Patillo was identified after his photo was among those of rioters posted on the Vancouver Police Department website as part of their investigation. He then confessed his involvement to police.
Patillo’s letter of apology said that after his father’s death in 2010, he began hanging out with a new group of friends and started drinking and going to bars. On the night of the riot, he said he drank alcohol before and during the game, but has no explanation for his behaviour and is stricken by “deep shame and regret.”
“I will always regret that I went downtown that night; regret the havoc I wrecked (sic) and the fear I instilled,” his letter stated.
Not long after the riot, Patillo, who has 13 siblings, went to work at a camp for under-privileged children in Edmonton. Working with kids who had lived in foster homes and groups home made him realize that he had to change his life, he said.
Bagnall said Patillo’s behaviour was indicative of “a young man who had temporarily lost his moral compass in the aftermath of the death of his father,” but a jail term was necessary to address his “prolonged and various involvement” in the riot. Issues of deterrence and denunciation would also be better addressed by a period of incarceration, she said.