A man who was convicted in a high-profile murder in Vancouver has been awarded $10,000 in damages for injuries he suffered during an accident involving a sheriff’s van.
At the time of the accident in December 2015, Kevin Jones, who was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Rajinder Soomel, was seated in the back of the van, in handcuffs and leg shackles, as it was transporting him from the parking lot at the Vancouver Law Courts back to pre-trial detention.
The sheriff driving the van backed the vehicle into a concrete pillar at low speed. Jones claimed that on impact, he was sitting in an awkward position and hit his head on the bars inside the vehicle.
He testified he immediately felt pain in his neck, upper back, lower back, hip, left knee and right ankle, and claims that he continues to suffer pain from various injuries arising from the accident.
The defendants, including the province of B.C. and the B.C. Sheriff Services, admitted liability for the accident, but argued that Jones had failed to prove a causal connection between his alleged injuries and the accident and therefore was not entitled to damages.
The accident happened following one of Jones’ court appearances in 2015 in connection with the murder case. He was convicted of the September 2009 Soomel murder in May 2016 and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.
In her ruling on the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Amy Francis found that there a number of problems with Jones’ evidence that called into question his credibility and reliability and therefore it was necessary to exercise caution and examine the evidence carefully.
“I found him to be persuasive and credible in his evidence about the various ways in which pain impacts his day-to-day life,” said the judge. “However, I do not accept that all of his chronic pain started at the time of the accident, or was caused by the accident.”
The judge said that Jones had not proven on a balance of probabilities that his chronic knee and ankle pain was caused by the accident, but found that he had proven he suffered neck, upper back, lower back and hip pain from the incident.
“I accept that Mr. Jones’ lower back pain has impacted his ability to do some of the recreational and fitness activities in prison. This is relevant to his entitlement to a non-pecuniary damages award. Mr. Jones is still lifting weights, running and playing basketball, just not at the level he was before.”
The judge awarded him $10,000 for pain and suffering and $300 for cost of future care. He had sought $70,000 for pain and suffering.
At the murder trial, Jones and his co-accused, Colin Stewart, were found guilty in the brazen shooting of Soomel near a half-way house on Cambie Street.