A man who assaulted two grocery store employees during a COVID-inspired meltdown last January has received a conditional discharge with 12 months probation. Gordon Grsic will not have a criminal record, but he will be required to write letters of apology to his victims, continue with anger management counselling and perform community service.
Grsic pleaded guilty to charges of assault, assault causing bodily harm, and mischief $5,000 or under in connection with an incident from Jan. 28, 2022.
On that day he entered the Save-On-Foods in Garrison Village around 2:20 p.m.
Laying out the facts of the case, Crown prosecutor Cindy Kemble said he was in an “agitated state” when he picked up a hand sanitizer stand and threw it on the ground.
“He wandered throughout the store, commenting on the current COVID situation, the vaccine situation, the need for masks and various lockdown issues,” Kemble said.
Grsic was confronted by two Save-On-Foods employees and he punched one of them in the face, breaking his nose. During the melee that followed he hit a second employee as well. Kemble said it took multiple people to subdue him, but by the time police arrived he was compliant and polite.
The incident was captured on cell phone video and can be seen in the related stories below.
Crown and defence agreed on the joint submission recommending the conditional discharge, with Kemble noting that Grsic has no criminal record and the incident was completely out of character.
Judge Peter Whyte initially pushed back but defence lawyer Martin Finch made the case that Grsic’s lack of criminal history should play a role in sentencing, as should his remorse.
Grsic addressed the court briefly to say he was sorry for what he did, with Finch suggesting that months of COVID-caused anxiety built up to a breaking point.
Finch told the court that Grsic, employed by Telus at the time, had been mostly working from home during the pandemic. He felt increasingly isolated and anxious. On the day of the incident he watched an American football game on TV where tens of thousands of fans packed into the stands, and it appeared to him like none of them were wearing masks.
Finch said Grsic felt confused and frustrated with the local mask mandates, but “He was never fully aware that his level of anxiety had risen to a point where he’d react the manner he did on the day in question.”
Finch noted that Grsic was vaccinated and wasn’t “a COVID denier of any type.”
He described the incident as “extraordinarily isolated event that arises within that world that COVID imposed upon all of us.”
Grsic’s employment also factored into the sentence. The 54-year-old retired in July after 25 years at Telus, where he was involved with several major telecommunications projects. Grsic plans to work privately in Canada and the United States, and Finch argued a criminal record would prevent him from crossing the border.