Jury convicts man in beating

A jury found a Lacombe man guilty of robbery for his role in an attack that saw a group of men rain kicks and blows on their teen victim in a Lacombe park.

A jury found a Lacombe man guilty of robbery for his role in an attack that saw a group of men rain kicks and blows on their teen victim in a Lacombe park.

Travis James Kastrukoff, 23, showed little emotion as the verdict was read in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Thursday after the nine-man, three-woman jury deliberated for about three hours. He will be sentenced next year.

Kastrukoff’s conviction closes the book on the violent July 17, 2010, robbery of a 19-year-old man that was captured on a video camera in a 40-second clip shown over and over during the trial. Five people have now been convicted in connection with the incident.

Andrew Dennis Renaud, 19, of Lacombe pleaded guilty to robbery last December and was sentenced in May to 17 months in jail, in addition to five months already served in custody.

Last month, Brian Travis Ward, 21, of Lacombe, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to robbery.

Earlier this fall, a Lacombe teen, who was 17 at the time of the robbery and can’t be named, was given a nine-month suspended sentence and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to obstruction.

Another Lacombe man, Carl Wesley Johnston, 19, pleaded guilty to robbery in Red Deer provincial court last Monday. He is to be sentenced on Feb. 17.

Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard expressed satisfaction with the verdict outside court. “The video evidence was very powerful and the jury accepted that.”

In his closing address to the jury, Collard told them they were promised a video of a robbery and he delivered a “violent, head-stomping robbery, close up, in colour, with sound.

“If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many words did that video speak? One — guilty.”

Kastrukoff did not have to rob the victim himself to be found guilty, he said. It was enough that he aided or abetted or had common intention with someone else to rob the teen.

During the trial, the victim testified that he had been invited to go for a drink with a girl. When he and some friends drove through a Lacombe park, the vehicle stopped and he was dragged out and beaten by a small group of young men. He was robbed of $20, a cellphone and a hat. The victim, who can’t be named under a court-ordered publication ban, was not seriously injured.

Defence lawyer Walter Kubanek told the jury his client admitted assaulting the victim but had no part in the robbery and didn’t know it had happened until later.

The jury was asked to consider the emotional state of his client, who had been drinking before the incident. Court heard earlier this week that Kastrukoff was angry at the victim for allegedly being involved in a home invasion at his parents’ Lacombe house that left his mother and three younger brothers in tears.

Outside court, Kastrukoff’s father, Reg Kastrukoff, expressed disappointment with the verdict given the evidence. “I don’t know if you can call this justice.”

Kubanek asked Justice Kirk Sisson to order a pre-sentence report and a psychological assessment of his client, who has a violence-related criminal record, before sentencing.

A date for sentencing will be set on March 5.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com