Man convicted in fatal assault on senior at Vancouver Costco apologizes in court
VANCOUVER -- The man found guilty in the death of a senior outside a Vancouver Costco wiped away tears Tuesday as he told a B.C. Supreme Court judge he’s sorry for what he did.
Thomas Toth, 61, of East Vancouver was convicted of manslaughter last November for his role in the death of Orlando Ocampo, an 86-year-old Vancouver resident.
On Dec. 20, 2017, Toth encountered Ocampo as they both left the Costco on Expo Boulevard. The encounter turned hostile with the pair reportedly swearing at each other.
During Toth’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday, the court heard Ocampo pepper sprayed Toth before walking several metres away from him. Toth approached Ocampo and pushed him, causing the senior to fall and hit his head on the concrete.
Toth fled as bystanders administered first-aid to Ocampo, a grandfather of five who had been married for 63 years. Three weeks later, Ocampo died of his injuries in hospital.
Toth’s lawyer read letters to the courtroom written by his wife and adult daughter. His daughter recalled hearing her dad break down crying when he learned Ocampo succumbed to his injuries. Toth’s wife wrote that her husband couldn’t sleep for months after the encounter, and could often be heard weeping in the living room in the middle of the night.
Toth then addressed the courtroom, delivering a tearful apology. He said he’s sad about what he did, and he wished Ocampo did not die. Wiping away tears, he told the judge he wished none of it ever happened.
Toth’s defence team is asking for a one-year prison sentence, saying the man’s actions were out of character, and being pepper sprayed provoked him. Toth’s lawyer described him as an upstanding citizen with no drug or alcohol problems and no diagnosed mental health issues.
The sentencing hearing was supposed to begin last March, however Toth failed to appear in court. As a result, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest. He was located in Vancouver and taken into police custody last month.
Crown counsel is seeking a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months following one year of probation, saying Toth skipping his initial sentencing hearing warrants a punishment greater than the one-year term defence is seeking. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on June 29.