Raymond Taavel's last night alive captured on security video

Security video from Menz Bar on Halifax's Gottingen Street shows prominent Halifax gay rights activist Raymond Taavel dancing with friends on the night he died.

Taavel beaten to death by Andre Denny outside Menz Bar in Halifax in April 2012

Video from Menz Bar in Halifax shows Taavel dancing with friends on the night he died nearly 4 years ago. 0:34

Security video from a Halifax bar shows prominent Halifax gay rights activist Raymond Taavel dancing with friends on the night he was killed nearly four years ago.

The video was played Monday at the sentencing hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax for Andre Denny, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Taavel's death.

The two men got into an altercation on Gottingen Street in front of Menz and Mollyz Bar shortly after the scene depicted in the video.

Court was told that Denny punched Taavel twice, knocking him to the ground. He then kicked Taavel in the head and slammed it into the pavement about nine more times.

Video shows inside of bar

The video was recorded early on the morning of April 17, 2012. It shows a mostly empty bar with only a handful of patrons. The camera is positioned just in front of a small dance floor with stools and tables visible in the background.

At one point, Denny, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, can be seen passing on the left side of the screen.

Denny was AWOL from the East Coast Forensic Hospital that night and has severe mental illness. He'd been given a one-hour pass to go smoking but failed to return to the facility at the appointed time.

'Dancing to dead in a matter of minutes'

The video shows Taavel, in a bright white shirt, dancing with another man. In the background, Denny can be seen helping another bar patron who appears unsteady on his feet.

Raymond Taavel is shown in a 2008 handout photo. He was killed nearly four years ago outside a Halifax bar. (The Canadian Press/Shambhala Sun-Marvin Moore)

Denny and the other man pass behind the dancers, headed out of the bar. Denny is supporting the other man as they walk.

His lawyer, David Mahoney, pointed out the gesture at Monday's sentencing hearing and said it shows Denny was not angry or violent at that point.

But Crown prosecutor Mark Heerema said Denny was responsible for a "vicious, gratuitous beating that was senseless and unprovoked."

Heerema said Taavel went from "dancing to dead in a matter of minutes."

Justice Peter Rosinksi will sentence Denny on March 24. The Crown is asking for up to 10 years. The defence argues Denny has already spent sufficient time in custody for this offence.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes


Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 34 years, the last 25 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety.