VANCOUVER -- Nearly three years after drunken Canucks hockey fans razed parts of downtown Vancouver, authorities say 298 people have now been charged as the massive investigation winds down.
In its first media update since Feb. 20, the Criminal Justice Branch said it only has to decide whether to charge two more alleged rioters forwarded by Vancouver police, which is still pursuing one or two more suspects.
"We made a commitment that we would make sure that we did everything we possibly could to provide the best evidence to Crown to prosecute," said VPD spokesman Const. Brian Montague.
The VPD used terabytes of video and photo evidence culled from social media and CCTV footage of June 15, 2011 to recommend 880 criminal charges against 364 people. Crown agreed to charge 298.
Five new alleged rioters included in Friday's update are Tauseef Merchant, Arian Shamei, Dylan Toxopeus and Robert William Harrison who were all charged with participating in a riot and mischief.
Merchant was also charged with arson, Toxopeus was charged with theft and along with Shamei faces break and enter charges, while Harrison was also charged with assault.
Conrad Vickerson faces one charge each for rioting and breaking and entering.
Of those charged, 259 have pleaded guilty, including every one of the many young offenders, according to the Criminal Justice Branch. So far, five have gone to trial, where four were convicted in the beating of Good Samaritan Robert MacKay. Ioannis Kangles was acquitted in that trial after a judge found reasonable doubt as to his actions that night.
Ioannis and one acquitted after a includes all young persons who were charged.
Of those convicted, 226 have been sentenced and one trial is scheduled to continue in B.C. Supreme Court July 16.
The VPD now has two officers dedicated to the investigation, down from its height of 60 members when it was an integrated unit, Montague said. However if someone thinks they know of a rioter who hasn't been charged, police will continue to track down tips as there is no statute of limitations on the crime of participating in a riot, he added.
Montague said officers quelled the 2011 riot much faster than the city's other hockey riot in 1994, but the department learned many valuable lessons from the destruction three years ago.
"If you look at the scale of the event the fact that there was no loss of life was an accomplishment," Montague said.
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