Troy Lush died following fight in downtown Barrie in 2010
Close friends of Troy Lush, Dane Miele-Coote and Danielle Bishop, leave court devastated after hearing charges were dropped in his 2010 stabbing death. TRACY MCLAUGHLIN PHOTO
As a mother wept and moaned in court on Friday, the Crown attorney withdrew a manslaughter charge against the man who stabbed her son to death.
“Murderer!” Patricia Antle yelled as she broke down in tears.
She was yelling at 25-year-old Jeff Surgenor, who was charged in the stabbing death of her 23-year-old son, Troy Lush, who died following an early morning brawl at closing time in downtown Barrie on Aug. 14, 2010.
In court, Crown attorney Kevin Sisk appeared to regret that he had a legal obligation to drop the charges against Surgenor.
Sisk said he could not be sure that the stabbing death was not done in self-defence.
“We cannot prove that self-defence does not apply here,” Sisk said in a courtroom filled with Lush’s family and friends. “The Crown bears the onus of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the Crown has concluded that the evidence does not meet that burden of proof.”
Sisk said several senior Crown counsel were consulted in the matter.
But his reasoning did not appease the sting of hurt and anger from the friends and family who left the courtroom weeping, yelling and hurling insults at the justice system as security guards calmly stood nearby.
No facts or details were read out in court, but at a preliminary hearing earlier this year, several witnesses testified about the heated brawl they saw that started at a downtown restaurant and made its way down a back alley. The fight began with two men and then there were four or five other men who joined in, Surgenor and Lush among them.
Witnesses testified the group of men were screaming at each other. By the time the fight moved into the alley, Surgenor was being pummelled by Lush and his friend, the court heard. At that point, several witnesses testified they saw Surgenor backed against a shed.
“At that point, it was two on one,” one female witness testified.
“Troy and his friend got Surgenor cornered against the shed and they were beating him up pretty bad. He was cornered between the shed and the wall; he couldn’t go anywhere. Troy and his other friend were punching him at the same time.”
The witness said she tried, but failed, to break up the fight.
Several other witnesses pleaded with the men to stop fighting, and more than once tried to pull Lush off, the court heard.
“Surgenor was fully covered in blood. He was beaten so badly I knew he would have to go to the hospital,” said the witness. “I could tell it was going to escalate into something bad.”
“This really wasn’t a fight, it was a beating,” said defence Surgenor’s lawyer Gary Pickard.
Another witness, 22-year-old Tarik Topic, a promotions and marketing employee at the restaurant, said he, too, tried to break the fight up.
“I tried as hard as I could to verbally break it up. I thought I had it under control,” he said. “And then it escalated again.”
Topic said at one point, Lush was on his back being punched by Surgenor.
“They were going at each other, I’m yelling stop, stop!”
While the actual stabbing seemed hazy, witnesses said after Surgenor pulled out a knife. At that point, Lush said, ‘You’re going to stab me?’ and took his belt off, wrapped it around his fist. Surgenor then stabbed Lush five times near the waist and abdomen, and slashed Lush’s friend in the head, then left.
Topic said he will never forget what came next.
“I saw something that didn’t look right,” he said. “Troy is on his knees, he’s holding his chest, I knew this was not a good thing. Troy’s buddy had blood running down his shirt. I ran screaming for an officer.”
Another witness said she held Troy’s head in her lap as people stood around crying.
“Troy walked out (of the alley) on his own and collapsed on the road. He just fell,” said Jessica Diegle, with tears in her eyes.
“I was holding Troy’s head up and two guys were helping me hold his wounds.”
The next thing she heard was the sound of a siren in the distance as Lush lay still in her lap.
He later died in a Toronto hospital.