Seven months after the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup loss descended into bedlam, a 20-year-old man has become the first person convicted for his role in the riot.
Ryan Dickinson, who is from suburban Coquitlam, pleaded guilty Friday to participating in the June 15 riot.
Dickinson also pleaded guilty to breach of recognizance. He's been in jail since his arrest last month for violating a court-ordered curfew connected with a previous assault charge.
Two charges of mischief will be dropped in light of the guilty plea, said Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie.
The guilty plea marks the first time anyone has been convicted for participating in the riot, in which fans burned cars, smashed windows and looted stores after the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins. The chaos lasted for several hours and caused millions of dollars in damage before police, armed with riot gear and tear gas, finally managed to take control of the streets.
Televised trial request
The riot prompted tough talk from B.C.'s premier, who has said she wants to see the rioters in jail and wants the cases televised.
The Crown plans to ask permission to televise trials and major hearings, but that did not happen before Dickinson's appearance Friday. The proceedings went ahead outside the gaze of TV cameras.
Dickinson is scheduled to return to court for a pre-sentence hearing on Feb. 7, and the Crown expects to address its application to televise the case on the same day.
The province's attorney general, Shirley Bond, declined to discuss the case in detail, but heralded the first conviction.
"I'm certainly glad to see that one of the individuals who took part in the riot has accepted responsibility for his actions," Bond told reporters in Victoria.
"British Columbians I think will be pleased to see the first guilty plea, and we certainly expect to see more charges being laid in the near future and I think we can expect to see additional individuals come forward and hopefully take responsibility for their actions."
So far, 28 people have been charged in the riot. The Crown is still considering charges against dozens more, and police have predicted hundreds could eventually face charges.
The pace of the criminal investigation has frustrated some pundits and members of the public, who have complained that it took too long to lay charges, particularly compared with the swift convictions that followed riots last year in London.
The last time there was a sports riot in Vancouver, following the Canucks' Stanley Cup loss in 1994, Crown counsel approved various charges against 106 people — all of whom were convicted. Of those, 103 pleaded guilty and three were convicted at trial, according a document prepared by the Vancouver police following last year's riot.
Sentences varied from more than a year in jail to discharges and community-based sentences that did not include time in custody.
Restorative justice recommended
An independent review into the 2011 riot, released last year, included a recommendation that the courts consider restorative justice in sentencing, which focuses on ensuring offenders recognize the harm they have done and learn from the experience rather than simply imprisoning them.
The report's authors said such measures could include mediation, sentencing circles or restorative conferences with victims, offenders, their families and community representatives.
One person has already pleaded guilty to charges indirectly related to the riot.
Karanvir Singh Saran pleaded guilty to possessing clothing stolen from a store during the riot, but wasn't convicted of actually being at the riot. He received an absolute discharge, avoiding jail time.
Those charges were laid by the RCMP and weren't connected to the Vancouver Police Department's investigation.