'Attention seeking': B.C. man who skinny dipped with aquarium sharks pleads guilty
TORONTO - A British Columbia man who stripped naked and jumped into a shark tank at a Toronto aquarium last year apologized for his actions Thursday as he pleaded guilty to mischief.
David Weaver, of Nelson, B.C., was drunk at the time of the incident, according to an agreed statement of facts read out in a Toronto court.
Weaver went to Ripley's Aquarium in downtown Toronto on Oct. 12, bought a ticket, then stripped naked and jumped into the facility's shark tank.
“His behaviour was more than foolhardy, it was criminal,” said Crown attorney Heather Keating. “There is no other explanation other than attention seeking.”
Weaver told court he was sorry.
“I just want to take the time to apologize for wasting your time your honour, the court's time, and for my actions of last year,” Weaver said.
Court heard Weaver, 38, has a criminal record and has struggled with alcohol abuse for the past two decades ever since his brother murdered his father.
Weaver's lawyer, Blair Drummie, also said his client does not believe animals should be kept in cages, which is one of the reasons he jumped in the shark tank.
He will serve a 12-month suspended sentence, must attend counselling and cannot return to Ripley's.
A large crowd gathered at the aquarium that night and some in attendance took videos of the incident, one of which was played in court.
The videos, which attracted international attention after surfacing on social media, show a naked man swimming in the tank with sand tiger sharks, sawfish and moray eels.
The man then starts to climb out of the tank before performing a back dive into the water to loud cheers.
Weaver then got out, grabbed his clothes and left. Police have said by the time they arrived at the aquarium, the man had fled.
Weaver was arrested four days later near Thunder Bay, Ont., during a vehicle stop and spent three nights in jail, court heard.
Police have also alleged that earlier on Oct. 12, Weaver had assaulted a man outside Medieval Times, a jousting-themed dinner theatre. A window was also allegedly broken.
Weaver was charged with assault and mischief in that earlier incident, which is now being dealt with separately by the court, and will face trial on those charges in late October.