A Surrey man who claimed he acted in self-defence when he stabbed a Richmond man six times in his driveway after the victim called him a “goof” has lost an appeal of his conviction.
Jason Curtiss Billing was sentenced to two years in prison, on top of 527 days credit for time served, to be followed by three years probation after a jury found him guilty of aggravated assault in the June 15, 2016 stabbing of Kevin Markland.
Billing had 44 prior convictions – 14 of them involving crimes of violence. Of the stab wounds, done with an eight centimetre long blade, four were to Markland’s back.
Billing had argued before the B.C. Court of Appeal that judge who presided over his trial in 2017, Justice Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, erred in her charge to the jury, resulting in an “unjust verdict.” He argued her charge led the jury to reject his claim that he acted in self-defence.
Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon dismissed his appeal on July 2, in Vancouver, with Justices Susan Griffin and Bruce Butler concurring.
“The appellant’s position at trial was that he was unable to retreat in the circumstances because he was being attacked,” Fenlon noted. “In my view no instruction on an obligation to retreat was warranted in the circumstances.”
Fenlon noted that the trial judge had told the jury that it was to “consider Mr. Billing’s circumstances and were to use their common sense in assessing whether he was acting in self-defence.”
DeWitt-Van Oosten noted at the trial that the 36-year-old had been on probation at the time of the stabbing and among his priors were convictions for assault, assault with a weapon, criminal harassment, robbery, using an imitation firearm and uttering threats.
DeWitt-Van Oosten noted at the trial that Billing had no explanation why Markland, 45, was stabbed in the back.
The victim lived in Richmond with his wife and Billing’s girlfriend also lived there. Billing had driven by several times, honking his horn and doing burnouts on the pavement, angry that his girlfriend wouldn’t see him.
Markland had gone to a gas station with a jerry can to buy gas for his lawnmower, and returned to find Billing’s car in his driveway and Billings arguing with his wife.
Billing then parked on the street and Markland parked his truck in the carport. Billing walked up the driveway toward him, and Markland told him to get off his property.
“He called him a ‘goof,’ or something to this effect,” DeWitt-Van Oosten noted at the trial. “In prison parlance, this term can be taken as an invitation to fight.”
Billing was arrested the same day of the stabbing. He kicked the inside of the police car and was “chewing foam that was around the window between the front and back seat,” DeWitt-Van Oosten observed. “He acknowledge using illicit drugs on June 15.”
The sentence was on top of the credit Billing received for the 351 days he spent in jail awaiting trial and sentencing. Section 719(3.1) of the Criminal Code entitled him to 1.5 days credit for each day served, making that 527 days.
The Crown had sought a sentence of four to five years for aggravated assault and six months consecutive for two breaches while the defence argued for time served to be followed by probation.
Billing’s version painted Markland as the aggressor. He claimed he was “hit with a wall of gas which caused his eyes to burn and made it difficult to see,” Fenlon noted in her reasons for decision. Billing claimed he went into “defensive mode” and took “blind swings” at Markland before receiving a “serious blow” to the left side of his face by either the gas can or Markland’s fist.