A five-day assault trial wrapped up Friday (Nov. 25) at the Chilliwack Law Courts, with the alleged victim and the accused both taking the witness stand.
Robert Macaskill is charged with aggravated assault for an alleged incident from Feb. 24, 2019. Frank Paul suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg, arm and shoulder along with skull fractures.
Around 8 a.m. that day, after hearing the flush of an upstairs toilet, Macaskill found Paul on the second floor of a two-storey home on Corbould Street. Macaskill lived downstairs with his wife, and at the time his 15-year-old grandson.
The second floor was vacant, but Macaskill said there were frequently uninvited guests. Paul, who was homeless at the time, had stayed at the house before and came back to stay there on a cold night. When Macaskill discovered him in the morning, he forced him to leave.
How aggressively he did so is the central question.
In Macaskill’s version of events, he gave Paul a kick in the backside to get him moving and Paul was injured when he fell down a flight of stairs leaving the house.
Paul admitted he toppled down the stairs, but testified that Macaskill also hit him several times with a metal pipe.
Earlier in the week, a doctor testified that it was possible Paul’s injuries were caused solely by falling down the stairs, but it was unlikely.
Paul appeared in the morning and he was grilled by defence lawyer Tony Lagemaat, who zeroed in on details from that day. Lagemaat tested Paul’s memory, targeting inconsistencies between what he said this week and what he said hours after the incident, and in a preliminary hearing from 2020.
Paul admitted to using fentanyl the night before the alleged assault and using a small amount in the morning to ward off withdrawal symptoms. Lagemaat suggested drug-induced psychosis may have prevented him from remembering events accurately.
Paul struggled on the stand, frequently answering Lagemaat’s questions with “I don’t remember.”
In his opening remarks Monday (Nov. 21), Crown prosecutor Henry Waldock told the court Paul suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suggesting he’s buried the worst memories of the alleged assault. On that basis, Waldock succeeded in getting parts of Paul’s earlier statements, which would normally be hearsay and therefore inadmissible, admitted as direct evidence.
Macaskill took the witness stand in the afternoon and repeated his version of events, insisting the most physical he got with Paul was applying a “kick to his ass” with minimal force.
During cross-examination, Waldock focused on Macaskill’s emotional state, suggesting the other unwanted guests in the top floor of the house in the days and weeks leading up to the incident had made him angry.
Waldock used that word repeatedly. Every time he did, Macaskill countered that he wasn’t angry, just frustrated.
As Lagemaat did with Paul, Waldock did with Macaskill, pointing out inconsistencies between his court testimony and his previous statements.
Macaskill had previously said there were a bunch of automotive parts on the stairs that Paul fell down. Pictures from the day of the incident showed just one item in the stairwell.
Macaskill also testified in court that he didn’t chase Paul down the stairs, but previous statements were descriptive enough to imply that he was close enough behind to see everything the other man did.
Both sides concluded their cases Friday and Macaskill will be back in court Monday (Nov. 28) to set a date for a decision by Justice Ardith Walkem.