British Columbia

Man who threw punch that left stranger with brain damage found not guilty

Omid Roudiani was acquitted of aggravated assault in B.C. Supreme Court last month, about three years after he punched Joshua Albertson outside the former Roadhouse Bar in downtown Vancouver.

Omid Roudiani was charged with aggravated assault for blow that left Joshua Albertson with brain injury

Joshua Albertson was left with a brain injury after a single punch thrown by Omid Roudiani. (Vancouver police)

A Metro Vancouver man has been found not guilty of aggravated assault for throwing a single punch that caused a traumatic brain injury to the man he hit.

Omid Roudiani was acquitted of the single charge in B.C. Supreme Court last month, about three years after he punched Joshua Albertson outside the former Roadhouse Bar in downtown Vancouver.

The blow knocked Albertson to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the pavement and lose consciousness. His skull was fractured by the impact, and he later needed surgery to remove a portion of his brain. Police described his injuries as permanent and life-altering.

But after a trial in B.C. Supreme Court, Justice Nathan Smith said he was left with reasonable doubt about Roudiani's culpability in the incident.

"The Crown has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Roudiani did not act in self‑defence. I, therefore, am bound to find him not guilty," Smith wrote in his Oct. 5 judgment.

The night of the punch

The punch happened just after 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 25, 2015. Albertson, then 34, was walking with his wife Nancy down Smithe Street near Granville when they came across two groups of young men arguing in front of two limousines, according to the judgment.

Albertson was trying to make his way around or through the men when he somehow got caught up in the confrontation, and he was pushed back and forth between the two groups. His wife testified that he hadn't done anything aggressive, but she watched as a fist came out of the melee and hit Albertson directly in the side of the head.

Roudiani was arrested about a month later.

At trial, he testified that shortly before throwing the fateful punch, he'd been in a separate fight across the street, outside the Gorg-O-Mish Afterhours club. His friends were waiting in one of the groups outside the Roadhouse.

After he'd rejoined the group, Roudiani said he watched as one of his friends was punched and a fight broke out. He claimed he saw another friend pushed back by a "a big tall guy barging through the group" — Albertson — and believed it to be one of the men he'd been fighting on the other side of the street.

Roudiani testified that he felt he had to defend himself and his smaller friend, and so he swung his arm at Albertson as he fell backwards in the skirmish.

'These events unfolded very quickly'

The judge said he didn't believe Roudiani had simply swung his arm while falling or believe his testimony in general.

But Smith said the Crown had failed to disprove Roudiani had acted in self defence, and that it was plausible he'd seen Albertson as a threat.

"I cannot ignore the fact that these events unfolded very quickly. Only about 30 seconds elapsed from the time Mr. Roudiani had clearly joined the group by the white limousine to the point that Mr. Albertson was on the ground," Smith wrote.

"While I do not accept Mr. Roudiani's characterization of the situation as a full-scale brawl, all of the evidence is consistent with it being a tense confrontational situation with at least a potential for violence."