Star rugby player convicted of manslaughter in SkyTrain killing
Published Friday, July 28, 2017 1:17PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, July 28, 2017 7:15PM PDT
A young athlete has been found guilty of manslaughter for his part in a deadly altercation outside a Burnaby, B.C. SkyTrain station two years ago.
Star rugby player Taitusi Vikilani was convicted Friday in the death of James Enright, a 27-year-old who was fatally stabbed in the heart at a bus loop beside Edmonds SkyTrain Station in February 2015.
The court heard another athlete, Jesse Sellam, dealt the deadly blow, but that Vikilani also punched the victim in the head and was partially responsible for what happened.
Sellam previously pleaded guilty in the case, and Enright's mother, Barbara Stevenson, told CTV News she was relieved by the judge's decision to hold Vikilani accountable as well.
"I do feel we've got some justice for James," she said.
Enright and a woman were sitting in a parked car at the bus loop when Vikilani and Sellam, who had just met for the first time while drinking at a party, started fighting with another group of men.
The court heard Vikilani saw Enright's friend recording the altercation on her cellphone and decided to approach the car and punch her in the face.
Enright stepped out to protect her, at which point Sellam plunged a knife into his torso and Vikilani hit him in the jaw. The victim's mother described his attempt to intervene in the assault as "typical James."
"He was a protector of the weak, the picked on, the criticized," Stevenson said. "He would have stood up and helped probably any other woman that was in that same situation, and that makes me so proud."
Vikilani, who is now a member of the BC Bears senior men's rugby team, was just 18 years old at the time of the killing and a student at Burnaby Central Secondary School. Sellam was 22.
Defence lawyer Patrick Beirne said Vikilani had no history with police before the incident, but nonetheless made a series of bad decisions that ended with a man losing his life.
"It's just unfortunate," Beirne said. "This young man with a great record, [who had] literally been 18 for a couple of weeks, ends up drinking at a house party and being a jerk at a SkyTrain station and that behaviour resulted in Mr. Enright dying. There was no reason for it."
A sentencing hearing for Vikilani has been scheduled for Oct. 31.
Sellam previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a sentence of four-and-a-half years.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim