Review of the evidence
Chronologically, it only makes sense to begin with the evidence of George Dranichak. George Dranichak is a liar and a coward.
He left his friend. The only explanation he has for that is that he got beat up, and when he got up after, he thought Ross Hammond had abandoned him
He says that because of the pain he experienced in the attack, he didn’t stick around. He hailed a cab and went back to the office. When Ross wasn’t there, and when he didn’t arrive shortly after, he did nothing to locate his friend. He slept in his car. In the morning, he says he called in sick and went home. He says he assumed RH went back to the Big Bop to hang with his friends so he didn’t worry about him. After what happened, this seems a little preposterous.
Mr. Dranichak made it pretty clear he couldn’t afford to get arrested. He is an American on a work permit since 2002. He has a house, a wife and two small children here. He does not wish to lose the right to live and work here. So he abandoned his friend.
The defence has received disclosure. We agree that he telling the truth about going out with some other fellows from work that night. He is also telling the truth when he says he and RH broke off from the group and ended up at the Big Bop watching a band from St. Catherines.
The defence also agrees he is probably
telling the truth when he says that he and Mr. Hammond were approached by a girl on a bike who asked for money at the TD bank.
He says he and Mr. Hammond were rude and very, very inappropriate in the vulgar, profane and insulting things they said to this girl. He was asked about some of the things he and Mr. Hammond said. For the most part, he agreed with all of it. I will not repeat the words these men used here. It is already in evidence.
Clearly, he and Mr. Hammond were drunk. They could have just said no and walked on. But they didn’t. They called them a number of names and hurled insults at them. It was offensive. And it offended some of the other persons in the vicinity who immediately approached as a result of an escalating verbal dispute.
He describes Faith Watts as the instigator. She was aggressive, persistent and would not leave it alone. He went on to say she was screeching, screaming, swearing, insane and psychotic in her protestations. He said her face was sweaty and she appeared as though she was on, or coming down off drugs. This dovetails with her admission that she had injected an oxycontin that night.
He felt that, from the perspective of people on the street, it looked like he and Mr. Hammond were picking on the kids.
He also made it clear that RH was stubborn. He was lecturing them saying things like “you don’t know who I am.” “you don’t know what Ive got” and words to that affect.
He said Mr, Hammond just wouldn’t leave it alone. He was lecturing the kids.
He clearly acknowledges that it may have appeared as though Mr. Hammond was taunting Ms. Watts and the other people on the street.
He says the group grew in number very quickly.
“It seemed like us against all of Queen Street.”
At one point he agreed that there were as many as 15 people in the immediate vicinity.
He told the police that he crossed the street and Ross Hammond followed. He never went farther west than a few doors from where he crossed. He is sticking with that story.
He then says that he was suddenly and viciously attacked by a girl on a bike in front of a restaurant south and slightly west of the TD bank. He testified specifically, using the name, that it was Nicole Kish who ran her bike into him. This is quite impossible. Leave aside for a moment that there is no evidence that NK had a bike. What there IS evidence of is that she was wearing an ankle-length skirt. She could not possibly have ridden a bike into him as he claimed. After this, he says, he was down, being beaten by others, until he got an adrenaline surge and was able to get away.
He doesn’t seem to care that nobody believes him when he says he only went as far west as he said he did.
We know from numerous witnesses including Shaun Park, Mystica Cooper, Laura Quiggley, etc…… (fill in) that he was seen going all the way to Q and N.
Despite the obvious fabrication, the Crown had no choice but to call him. He was the only link to the narrative before Queen and Euclid, and the only one who could explain why Ross Hammond was walking west on Queen Street that night.
But because he lies, because he refuses to tell us what really happened after the TD bank, we will never know. Clearly there is something about this story he is afraid to tell.
As a result of his insistence on sticking with his original story, we will never be able to piece together his
role in the massive confusion that exploded at Queen and Niagara that night.
What really happened to him when he and Mr. Hammond were unable to get on the streetcar?
Did he just drift away and watch from a safe distance?
Did he go to the north side and end up engaging in a fight?
Was it his presence on the north side that drew Mr. Hammond over there? Was Ross Hammond killed because he was trying to save George Dranichak?
We don’t know, and we will never know?
Another thing we will never know is whether he made up all those people he described in his interview, and whether he really saw a hip hop guy, a Middle Eastern guy and a blond guy who looked like Kid Rock.
As a result of his lies, there is no way to accurate splice what is truth and what is fabrication. Clearly, everything he says happened after the TD bank cannot be relied on due to a lack of credibility.
Are there little bits of truth mixed up in the things he says happened after he “allegedly” crossed the street? Maybe, but this is a criminal trial, not a murder mystery. I submit this Court must be very cautious in using any of the evidence of Mr. D in your findings of fact.
With respect to his reliability, I respectfully submit that it must be approached with caution as well.
He was unable to reconcile his original descriptions with his subsequent identifications based on his viewing the City TV video. He repeated that he may be mashing descriptions of different people together.
He described the person he later says is Nicole Kish as having Portuguese features and a white t-shirt with little flowers on it.
He says Ms. Kish and Ms. Watts were both on bikes. There is no other witness who identifies either female as being on a bike. There is a girl on a bike according to Mystica Cooper, but it does not appear to be Ms. Kish.
Mr. Dranichak couldn’t recall whether he actually got money from the TD bank, or if Mr. Hammond talked him out of it.
He couldn’t get straight how much money he had on him, and how he paid the cab driver who helped him make good his escape.
He had trouble with what he himself was wearing that night. Steve Madden shoes vs. Hush Puppies. Jeans vs work pants. Exhibits 40 and 41 are photos of the clothes he turned in.
Can we be satisfied that he turned in the right clothes? If so, shouldn’t there be some indication from these clothes that he was beaten up as he says he was?
No matter how you slice it, Mr. Dranichak’s evidence lacks both credibility and reliability and must be approached with extreme caution when you decide what it is you find as fact in this trial.