Whistler killer appeal denied

31-year-old shooter to remain behind bars to finish 16-year sentence

The B.C. Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal bid by the man who fatally shot another on Whistler's Village Stroll in 2007.

In a ruling handed down last week by a panel of three judges, 31-year-old Shane Robert Joseph Richard was denied his appeal, which was based on claims that the trial judge for the initial case erred in instructing the jury how to properly assess the evidence provided with regard to self defence.

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Richard claims that he shot 25-year-old Michael George Boutros in self defence following an altercation at Tommy Africa's nightclub.

According to last Thursday's (June 23) ruling, Richard, who was carrying a .38 calibre Bryco Jennings semi-automatic pistol, was working as a hired bodyguard for drug dealer Kyle Gianis when they visited Whistler in March 2007.

The series of events of March 10, 2007 leading up to the shooting were detailed in the Court of Appeal ruling.

The group found themselves at Tommy Africa's when there was a verbal altercation between Gianis and one of Boutros' friends, who were also part of a group visiting Whistler.

After both groups left the nightclub, the Boutros group was headed for their hotel when they once again encountered Gianis and his friends. Boutros went up to Gianis and apologized for the earlier incident, but when Boutros' friend went up to Gianis to do the same, Gianis said, "don't be so f---ing lippy," and sucker punched him, knocking him unconscious.

Richard then challenged Boutros and another friend to a fight, at which point Boutros broke a glass bottle and held it out by the neck.

Richard told Boutros to "Drop the bottle. Fight like a man," before pulling out his handgun and firing at Boutros, who was four feet away.

The bullet passed through Boutros' stomach and liver before exiting out his back.

Richard then fled the scene, but was quickly tracked down and apprehended by an RCMP officer who was on a nearby patrol with his dog.

Richard was later convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to serve at least 16 years in jail before being eligible for parole.

Judge Christopher Hinkson oversaw proceedings in Richard's murder trial, and said at the time that he did not accept Richard's version of events during the trial.

"Mr. Richard's job that night was as a bodyguard for Mr. Gianis," said Hinkson at the trial. "He was illegally armed for this purpose. Killing Mr. Boutros was impulsive and senseless."

Justice Hinkson also said that due to Richard's criminal record - two driving prohibitions, two cases of driving while prohibited, three of breaching a court order, one of failing to appear in court and a jail sentence for drug trafficking - there were limited prospects for rehabilitation.

"The sentencing comes (at a time of) shootings in Vancouver by people that arm themselves like Mr. Richard," said Hinkson during the trial. "They arm themselves with guns they conceal but are prepared to use them in areas of large numbers of the general public."

After reviewing Richard's claim that the trial jury was given inadequate instructions, judge Richard Low of the appeals court wrote, "there is no basis for concluding that the jury might have been misled into believing that self-defence was unavailable to the appellant (Richard) if he was assaulted or perceived that he was being assaulted by only Boutros. I would reject the second ground of appeal."

The two other judges agreed, and Richard's appeal was subsequently denied.

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