Final arguments made in Cactus Club manslaughter trial

The defence for Cory Van Gilder say he was defending himself and the people around him when he fatally punched Zachary Gaudette last year.

Gaudette died from his injuries a few days after he was punched once in the head by Van Gilder the night of February 17, 2016 outside the Cactus Club on Banks Rd.

Final arguments in the manslaughter trial were made to the jury Monday morning.  

Lawyers for Van Gilder pointed to Gaudette’s criminal history and level of intoxication the night of the incident, arguing that when he approached the people outside the restaurant, yelling that he would fight anyone, he posed a risk.

“Zach Gaudette was a powder keg looking to explode,” said defence lawyer Jeff Campbell “It was just a question of time and who would be the target.”

When Gaudette was admitted to the hospital, his blood alcohol level was 3.5 times the legal limit for driving.

Campbell also argued that the fact that Gaudette had a small knife in his pocket during the altercation, is important, even though he never pulled it out.

“Mr. Van Gilder did not see the knife at the time, but at that moment he thought that he could have a weapon, like a knife, and he was right to be concerned,” he said “that’s one of the reason’s that he reacted the way he did.”

But Crown lawyer Andrew Vandersluys called the knife a “red herring”, arguing that no one knew Gaudette had it and no one knew his history.

Vandersluys also said that while Gaudette did talk about fighting, he never actually made threatening gestures or got into a fighting stance, and that Van Gilder could have walked away from the area when he first saw Gaudette approaching.

“If a person described as you’ve heard Mr. Gaudette was behaving, starts to head in your direction and you have time to leave, you have 20 to 30 seconds to leave, do you? Or do you walk towards the threat?” Vandersluys asked the jury.

He also noted Van Gilder’s training in mixed martial arts, arguing it gave him other ways to deal with Gaudette, as opposed to a punch he said, Van Gilder would have known was a hard one.

“Someone with this knowledge, with this training, and facing someone who is very, very, very, intoxicated, has an advantage and has the ability to face that threat in a more proportionate way.”

The jury began deliberating Monday afternoon.