Ice floe rider, IDed as infamous Moncton 'park golfer,' faces 6 charges

A 34-year-old man who was the subject of a water rescue Thursday morning when he floated down the Petitcodiac River on a chunk of ice has been charged with six offences related to a domestic incident that allegedly occurred earlier in the day.

Mike Delahunt charged in an alleged incident that occurred before he floated down Petitcodiac on ice

Mike Delahunt, pictured here in 2013, has been remanded in custody on several charges and is scheduled to have a bail hearing on Feb. 26. (CBC)

A 34-year-old man who was the subject of a water rescue Thursday when he floated down the Petitcodiac River on a chunk of ice has been charged with six offences related to a domestic incident that allegedly occurred earlier in the day. 

Mike Delahunt, who made headlines a few years ago as the so-called park golfer when he used Moncton's Victoria Park as his personal golf range, appeared in provincial court on Friday, said Codiac Regional RCMP.

He is charged with two counts of assault, one count of uttering threats, one count of damage to property and two counts of breach of probation, Staff Sgt. Mario Fortin said.

On Thursday, shortly before 6 a.m., police responded to a complaint of an assault at a home on Salisbury Road in Moncton, said Fortin.

When they arrived, the suspect had fled the scene.

The alleged victim, a woman, suffered what appeared to be minor injuries, said Fortin.

A police dog was brought in and led officers to the river, said Fortin.

"So we knew the possible suspect was in the vicinity, but because it was dark, we couldn't really see where."

Shortly afterward, a man was spotted on a large piece of ice floating down the river, and police realized it was their suspect, said Fortin.

RCMP have identified the man who was stuck on an ice floe speeding down the Petitcodiac River on Thursday as Mike Delahunt. (CBC NEWS)

At that point, the police focus shifted to a rescue operation, he said. "[Our] primary responsibility or duty is to make sure the person is sound and safe on the shore, not drowning in the river."

About 30 firefighters from Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe responded, along with members of the Canadian Coast Guard and area fishermen.

Emergency crews managed to throw ropes to the man from shore at the Gunningsville Bridge and near the Chateau Moncton, but he refused help.

Police now suspect he tried to use the ice, which was about twice the length of his height, as a "slow speed escape," said Fortin.

"I don't think he realized by going on that chunk of ice that it would go that long before reaching ashore."

Staff Sgt. Mario Fortin said the ice floe case is one of the most 'unusual' he has seen in his nearly 25-year career. (Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc/Radio-Cana)

The ice travelled "quite a long distance", heading toward the Bay of Fundy on a fast current before the river curved and the ice hit shore near the bottom of Louis Street in Dieppe, enabling the man to walk off.

"Luckily, the tide wasn't coming in at that time because then it could have been very dramatic," said Fortin.

The man was treated in hospital for hypothermia and taken into custody.

Delahunt was remanded into custody Friday and is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m. for a bail hearing.

The investigation continues, Fortin said.

In November 2014, Delahunt was given a one-year conditional sentence, including four months of house arrest, on charges of assault causing bodily harm and uttering death threats in connection with two golfing incidents at Victoria Park.

He had previously pleaded guilty to the charges.

Delahunt was also placed on probation for one year and ordered to have no contact with the victims: Fred Leidemer and Michael Walsh.

On Sept. 21, 2013, Delahunt had punched and shoved Leidemer, who had asked him to be more careful with his swing after a golf ball almost hit his wife.

Leidemer wound up with a broken arm and a missing tooth, the courtroom heard.

On Sept. 9, 2013, Delahunt had threatened Walsh, who had asked him to keep his golf balls off of his property.

Provoked bylaw change

In November 2014, Delahunt was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to violating on April 12 the court order to have no contact with Leidemer.

Three other charges against him — assault, threats, and breaching a court order — stemming from another alleged altercation with Leidemer on May 28 were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Golfing is now prohibited in Moncton parks. The city amended a bylaw in December 2013 at Leidemer's request.

Anyone found in violation faces a fine of between $100 and $1,070.