A man who beat another prisoner nearly to death while in pretrial custody for a Langley jewelry store robbery has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for both crimes.
Leonard Joseph Cardinal, 34, was sentenced Thursday in B.C. Provincial Court in Surrey. He pleaded guilty in March to aggravated assault and robbery. On May 5, 2011, Cardinal participated in the daytime robbery of Golden Tree Jewellers at Willowbrook Shopping Centre by jumping over the counter at the store, jostling an employee and stealing watches from a display case before fleeing. Six other men were also involved in the crime.
"The robbery was a serious one indeed," said Judge Richard Miller. "The potential for tragedy was very much present."
Cardinal was arrested and sent to North Fraser Pretrial Centre to await trial. There, he was placed in a cell next to gangster Jesse John Margison. Margison was in custody in connection with an allegedly gang-related kidnapping in Vancouver in November 2011.
On Aug. 12, 2012, Cardinal went into Margison's cell, where he was alone, and attacked him. A guard heard the commotion and arrived a few seconds later to see Margison unconscious on the floor and Cardinal stomping on Margison's head.
The guard ordered Cardinal to the ground, but he did not comply. The guard pepper-sprayed him. The guard heard Margison gasping for breath and saw a pool of blood around his head. When paramedics arrived 15 minutes later, Margison was not breathing but he had a pulse. Miller said his injuries were "catastrophic."
Margison suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that has left him needing help to perform simple tasks such as washing, dressing, using the washroom, feeding and walking, and his speech and memory are severely impaired.
"Margison's life is drastically and permanently affected," said Miller.
Margison has been deemed unfit to stand trial on the kidnappingrelated charges.
Cardinal claimed that he had heard through the jail rumour mill that Margison was going to attack him, so he launched a preemptive strike.
"I do not believe this story," Miller said.
Miller pointed to phone conversations Cardinal had with an
unidentified friend before and after the attack and said Cardinal never mentioned a threat or said he was going after Margison to protect himself.
Instead, Cardinal told the friend that Margison was a punk and that he had called him a goof, a serious insult in jail. He left the phone off the hook so his friend could hear the beating and laughed about it afterwards.
Miller also said Cardinal lacks insight into what he has done.
Cardinal received 4 1/2 years in prison for the robbery and 6 1/2 years for the assault, to run consecutively, for a total of 11 years. That time was reduced by 27 months, the amount of time Cardinal has spent in pretrial custody. Cardinal has eight years, nine months left in his sentence.
Jennifer Saltman is a Province reporter
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