A hockey coach who tripped up two young Richmond players during a post-game handshake was stunned when he was handed a 15-day jail sentence on Tuesday.
Martin Tremblay admitted assaulting the two Richmond Steel players following a heated spring hockey gold medal game at the UBC Thunderbird Arena last June.
The Crown has asked for his sentence to be served in the community, while Tremblay’s defense counsel had asked for a lesser conditional sentence.
It was a therefore a surprise to all concerned in Richmond Provincial Court when Judge Patrick Chen told Tremblay he would, starting today (Tuesday), be taken to Surrey Pre-trial centre to begin a jail term.
After one day in custody, Tremblay will then be released, before serving the remainder of his sentence on consecutive weekends.
A shocked and red-faced Tremblay put his hands in his pockets when the sentence was passed and then offered his hands behind his back to be cuffed by the sheriff officer.
Referring to Tremblay’s tripping as a “cowardly sucker-punch of an unsuspecting victim,” the judge said society “will not tolerate the assault of children by adults.
“If anything, the need for deterrence is stronger here, as he was a coach at the time … this could have generated into riotous behaviour and the court has a high duty to protect children.”
Tremblay’s lawyer, Bob Bellows, asked for the jail term to be run intermittently, so he could continue working as a contractor and still be able to support his family.
At his sentencing hearing earlier this month, Crown prosecutor Gerry-Lyn Nelson said Tremblay abused his position of trust, lost control and deliberately tripped up the players, aged nine and 13 at the time.
The older boy had a cast on a suspected broken wrist, which later turned out not to be as serious as first thought.
A YouTube video of the incident went viral on the Internet, attracting 2.5 million hits.
The court heard how, in an attempt to "put the 13-year-old player off his game," Tremblay called the boy "Tinkerbell," and "shitface," to which the boy replied with his own insults and rude gestures.
It was also revealed in court that Tremblay was under a year-long probation for a work-related assault against an adult at the time.
Tremblay later told a psychiatrist afterwards that his emotions "weren't under control" during the game.
Tremblay's lawyer, Bob Bellows, said it was a one-time incident for which Tremblay was "extremely regretful."
Bellows said Tremblay had quit taking his medications for anxiety and depression at the time of the incident and has had problems with alcohol in the past.
"He should not have been coaching," said Bellows.