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Princeton man on trial for allegedly assaulting doctor over COVID mask

Proceedings halted last week as court considers admissibility of evidence
(File photo)

A trial over the alleged assault of an on-duty doctor at Princeton General Hospital (PGH) was adjourned in circuit court last Friday, Nov. 17.

Trevor Rhyno, of Princeton, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.

Court heard testimony Thursday, Nov. 16,from Dr. Andrew Ashley.

Ashley said that on Aug. 2, 2022, he was struck by Rhyno following an argument about wearing a mask at Cascade Medical Clinic, as required by pandemic protocols.

Ashley underwent surgery following the alleged incident.

On Friday, PGH nurse Emily Eccott testified she witnessed a confrontation on a CCTV screen located in the hospital’s nursing station.

While the screen displayed a live video feed of the entrance to the emergency department, it did not have the capacity to record.

“We saw two men. One was larger and one was smaller…it looked like a heated conversation,” she said.

“We saw Trevor Rhyno begin to hit Dr. Ashley, and Dr. Ashley had his hands over his head.”

Nurse Jessica Miyasaki was also working that day, and saw similar images on the CCTV screen.

“He started to hit Dr. Ashley, overhand punches at his head and shoulder area,” she told the court. “It looked pretty hard.

Several people rushed outside and Rhyno left the area in a truck, she said.

Miyasaki described Ashley as being really shaken up.

“Dr. Ashley, he had a big red mark on his head and he said his thumb was sore.”

Defence counsel Monique Patterson asked both women if they saw Ashley try to hit a phone out of Rhyno’s hands, and each replied they did not.

Following that testimony, prior to RCMP Constable St. Jean taking the stand, Patterson raised the question of the admissibility of Rhyno’s statement to police later the same day.

The court closed the trial and opened a voir dire, often referred to as a trial within a trial to determine whether an issue of fact or law will be admissable.

In a jury trial, there is a publication ban on voir dire testimony and discussion, however, there is no such ban in trials heard by a judge alone, which is the case in this matter.

St. Jean said a call was made to police at 3:33 p.m. on Aug. 2, by Rhyno, alleging he was assaulted by a doctor.

A second call was received five minutes later from the manager of the medical clinic alleging an unruly patient had to be taken outside and that he assaulted a doctor.

The court agreed to hear an audio recording of St. Jean’s initial interview with Rhyno, as part of the voir dire.

During that conversation, Rhyno claimed Ashley grabbed his hand and tried to seize his phone. He said his arm was “yanked down,” resulting in injuries to his back.

He said he objected to wearing a mask because of concerns about abrasions and requested a face shield, which was not available.

Court was then adjourned and will reconvene on a date decided by the judicial case manager.

Defence counsel requested the balance of the trial take place in Penticton.

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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