The lawyer for one of two youths charged with killing South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo said there’s no way anyone should believe his client’s confession.
The teen, Kevin Westell informed Judge Robert Hamilton March 9, told friends different versions of events in the hours and days that followed Prestbakmo’s death, and made “conflicting, fantastical” statements as to why he and another teen attacked the 45-year-old that August 2019 morning – including saying that they were hired by the Red Scorpions to carry out a hit.
Those “shifting sands… should cause your honour to really pause before accepting any of the evidence that comes out of my client’s mouth,” Westell said during closing submissions in Surrey Provincial Court.
“(He is)… a frequent liar, and someone whose word cannot be counted on.”
Prestbakmo died just before 3:30 a.m. on the morning in question, after he was stabbed 42 times in a commercial parking lot at 18 Avenue and 152 Street.
Westell’s client and another teen – both of whom cannot be publicly identified due to their ages – are charged with second-degree murder in connection with Prestbakmo’s death. They’re also charged with aggravated assault in connection with “life-changing” injuries sustained by a senior earlier that same morning.
In closing submissions heard starting March 8, Crown counsel contended that the teens knew the potential consequences of their “intense, ferocious” attack on Prestbakmo, were co-perpetrators in both crimes and, as such, should be held equally responsible.
Michael Klein, defense counsel for the co-accused, submitted that there was “simply no evidence” that his client participated in an assault on the senior, nor that he inflicted the wounds that killed Prestbakmo.
During trial, court heard from experts that DNA from the crime linked Prestbakmo to the accused. CCTV footage associated with both crime scenes was also viewed and analyzed. A number of witnesses testified that Westell’s client was a frequent liar.
Noting he’s never been in a position of casting aspersions on his own client’s character before, Westell told the court that while it’s “reasonable to infer that either one or both of the boys participated in both attacks,” the evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client had intent to kill.
“The Crown has not come close to proving (my client’s) culpability,” he said. “The question of… who did what cannot be answered by the evidence before the court.”
Westell said evidence in Prestbakmo’s case supports nothing greater than a finding of manslaughter. He asked the court to acquit his client of both murder and aggravated assault.
A date to present the verdict is to be set in Surrey Provincial Court on March 24.
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