Kelowna man jailed for intimidating a witness in his trial

Jail for intimidating witness

Despite getting just one day of jail and a year of probation for assaulting and threatening a man, a local man will spend 75 days in jail after losing his temper outside the Kelowna courthouse on the day of his trial.

Neil Costin was found guilty of intimidation of the justice system this past summer, stemming from an incident on Water Street on Aug. 13, 2018. On the first day Costin was scheduled to begin trial at Kelowna court for the assault and uttering threat charges, the 30-year-old man confronted the victim outside the Kelowna courthouse, near the Kelowna Yacht Club.

“He was incredibly angry and screamed at (the victim), calling him a 'lying squid,' yelling that 'the truth will come out,' and 'I will see you in court,' as well as other similar comments, some of which were quite vulgar,” said Judge Lisa Wyatt during Costin's sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon.

“This event was not an accident or a quick passing interaction between Mr. Costin and (the victim). Mr. Costin pursued (the victim) aggressively and confronted him in an angry state, knowing that (the victim) was a witness in the court case against him.”

Later that day, Costin's trial was adjourned by the judge, presumably due to the earlier incident outside the courthouse. Four months later, Costin pleaded guilty to the assault and threat charges and was sentenced to one day in jail, along with a year of probation.

Costin has remained out of custody on bail since August 2018 and he was convicted of the intimidation charge a year later. While the charge carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, Costin's defence sought a suspended sentence, which would result in no jail time.

“I think I've gone through enough, I've learned my lesson, I stayed out of trouble (while on bail) and I just want to move on,” Costin told the court Wednesday.

Judge Wyatt ruled the conviction did in fact warrant jail time, and sentenced Costin to 75 days in jail, to be served intermittently on weekends.

“This type of an offence is an affront against the justice system,” Judge Wyatt said. “Witnesses who intend to testify in trials must know they can do their part safely, free from harassment or intimidation by others including the accused.”

Costin now lives on Vancouver Island, and will serve his intermittent sentence at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment.

Costin is far from done with the courts in Kelowna though. He currently faces charges of sexual assault, unlawful confinement and breach of bail conditions, stemming from an incident in Kelowna on April 17, 2019. The circumstances of that incident are unknown at this time, but his trial date is expected to be scheduled early next month.

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