Three years for 2011 Rock Bay beating death

Jason Van Winkle will spend the next three years behind bars in the wake of an unprovoked assault that left a man dead

Jason Van Winkle will spend the next three years behind bars in the wake of an unprovoked drug- and booze-fuelled assault that left a man dead in a Rock Bay motel in March 2011.

Van Winkle, 37, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Gilles Alain Thibodeau, 41, in July. Today in B.C. Supreme Court, Justice Laura Gerow sentenced the View Royal man to three and a half years years, minus credit for six and a half months for time in custody.

Van Winkle, who has a criminal history spanning 22 years, featuring 50 convictions for drug offenses, three assaults and a robbery, apologized to the victim’s family and his family. His mother was in the courtroom.

“I’ll live with this for the rest of my life. I just want to apologize and say I’m sorry,” Van Winkle told the court this morning.

The victim’s elderly parents, who live in eastern Canada, did not attend court. Thibodeau’s sister sent a letter describing her brother as smart and witty, but who struggled with addictions. “He was loved by his family and it’s a loss that will be felt forever,” Gerow said, reading the letter.

The sentence is in line with a joint recommendation of Crown counsel and Van Winkle’s defense lawyer Tom Morino. Gerow noted that Van Winkle has a lengthy criminal record and unprovoked, he attacked and beat a much smaller man, but she also took into account that he has shown remorse and co-operated with investigators.

Crown prosecutor Dale Marshall described the events leading to Thibodeau’s death, and the pathologist’s report on the cause of death, in an agreed statement of facts.

On March 15, 2011, Van Winkle hired Thibodeau and three other men for a job moving a family from Duncan to Victoria using a truck owned by Van Winkle.

On the second of three trips to finish the job, Thibodeau and two of the men drove to Duncan, but en route “became sidetracked” and started drinking alcohol. They eventually ran out of gas, abandoned the truck on the side of the road and ran off. Police called Van Winkle, who was forced to drive to Duncan, fetch the truck and finish the moving job.

The night of March 15, three of the men, Van Winkle and his girlfriend partied in suite 121 of the former Traveller’s Inn at 2828 Rock Bay Ave., consuming large amounts of alcohol and crack cocaine. Van Winkle consumed heroin, crack and alcohol, the court heard.

In the early morning of March 16, Marshall said Van Winkle started becoming obsessed with a supposed missing key for his mother’s house, and accused Thibodeau of stealing it.

Van Winkle, a large, stocky man, suddenly attacked Thibodeau, a slight, 147-pound man, easily kicking him to the floor and then kneeling on his chest.

“He was on Mr. Thibodeau’s chest hitting Mr. Thibodeau in the face with a closed fist repeatedly, six or seven times … saying ‘Where’s my key? Where’s my key?’” Marshall said. “Nobody expected it. If anything, Mr. Thibodeau was moving away from Mr. Van Winkle.”

In the moments before police arrived, Van Winkle realized Thibodeau was unresponsive and performed CPR on his victim. Victoria police officers arrived at the room around 2:50 a.m. and saw Thibodeau on the floor, eyes and mouth open, face blue and pale and not breathing.

Officers began CPR, and paramedics continued compressions en route to Victoria General Hospital and managed to induce a faint pulse. Thibodeau suffered a significant brain injury from a lack of oxygen. He was taken off life support on March 22, 2011, and died soon after.

At the Traveller’s Inn, police arrested Van Winkle on suspicion of manslaughter – which over the next days and months veered to aggravated assault, second degree murder and finally back to manslaughter. Marshall described the incident as a prolonged assault on a defenseless man of considerable size difference.

“(Van Winkle) was overheard by police saying over and over again, ‘Please don’t let him die. Please don’t let him die. Please don’t let him die,’” Marshall said.

Marshall said the pathologist report revealed Thibodeau died of a lack of oxygen to the brain due to a heart attack, which resulted from a combination of acute intoxication from crack cocaine and having Van Winkle’s full weight on his chest. He had several broken ribs.

The punches to Thibodeau’s head weren’t deemed a contributing factor in his death.

Morino pointed out that the pathologist’s report said it is difficult to know the degree to which the physical altercation contributed to Thibodeau’s death.

“Mr. Van Winkle pleaded guilty out of a sense of remorse. This is a significant mitigating factor,” Morino told the court.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read