British Columbia

No criminal record for security guard who broke man's arm while restraining him

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has granted a Kelowna security guard a conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to one count of common assault for breaking a man's arm in 2016 while attempting to restrain him. 

Bill Burke was handed a conditional discharge for common assault at Kelowna mall

The assault took place in the parking lot in Orchard Park Shopping Centre in June 2016, where Bill Burke was working as a security guard. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has granted a Kelowna security guard a conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to one count of common assault for breaking a man's arm in 2016 while attempting to restrain him. 

Bill Burke, 48, was originally charged with aggravated assault, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. But in January he reached a deal with the Crown and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of common assault.

Burke was charged after he injured a man who he attempted to remove from a Kelowna shopping mall.

At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, Justice Alison Beames handed Burke a conditional discharge, meaning the offence will not appear on his record as long as he keeps the peace for a period of one year.

"It's a relief that all the court [matters] are over," said Burke as he exited the court house.

"It's just now if I am able to hold my [security] licence or not."  The licence is a prerequisite to hold a job as a security guard.

Security guard Bill Burke said he is remorseful he injured a man when trying to restrain him. (Brady Strachan / CBC)

Burke, who represented himself in court, told Beames he was at risk of losing his job if he ended up with a criminal record for the offence.

He told the court he was remorseful for breaking the man's arm, and explained he was only trying to restrain the individual.

'Completely shocked and surprised'

On June 18, 2016, Burke was called to remove a man from the Orchard Park Shopping Centre's parking lot, where he was working as a security guard, court heard.

The individual, who was drinking alcohol, had more than 20 incidents at the mall previously, the court heard, and Burke asked him to leave.

During a verbal altercation, the man raised his fist aggressively and Burke moved to restrain him, court heard.

"I blocked the punch and pulled him to the ground," Burke said in an interview outside the court house.

"I took the arm and was just going to push him back to the ground so we could put his arms behind his back and there was a large snapping noise at which point I instantly let go of the guy.

"I was completely shocked and surprised."

'He is very sorry'

The man suffered a broken arm, and two months later Burke was charged with aggravated assault.

At the sentencing hearing Justice Beams acknowledged Burke was remorseful for the pain and suffering he caused the victim.

"Mr. Burke was attempting to utilize his training to control [the individual] without injuring [him]," Beams said.

"He says that he is very sorry and I accept that he is very sorry for the injuries that [the victim] sustained."

Burke is no longer working at the shopping center, but is employed as a security guard with another company. 

The victim was not in court for the sentencing hearing.

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan