Man sentenced to 4.5 years’ prison for fatal Surrey hit-and-run loses court appeal

It happened at ‘notoriously crime-ridden’ 135A Street strip in Whalley

A man sentenced to four and a half years in prison for killing a man with his pickup truck in Whalley along the 135A strip and failing to stop at the scene has lost an appeal of his convictions.

Christopher Lennox Edgar Griffith, 36, was convicted in 2017 of criminal negligence causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident after he struck and killed an innocent bystander while speeding away from a brewing confrontation.

Appeal Court Justice Gregory Fitch noted in his reasons for judgment, delivered at the Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver, that Griffith had been trying to “extricate himself” from a confrontation in the “notoriously crime-ridden” 135A Street strip, speeding in his Ford F-150 pickup truck through vacant, dimly lit grass lots, over a sidewalk and in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

“In doing so, he struck and killed Robert Patterson, a 50-year-old pedestrian who played no role in the confrontation but was attracted to the area by shouting and the sound of the appellant revving the truck’s engine.”

This happened on Aug. 16, 2013. The court heard Griffith had been drinking in bars with a friend that evening and they left at about midnight to buy some drugs on the strip, with his friend driving the truck.

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Fitch noted that a prostitute approached Griffith as he was waiting in the passenger seat, they “struck a deal,” she got in and he drove a short distance to where an “agreed-upon sexual act was performed.”

After, she asked Griffith to drop her off in a parking lot next to the Royal Canadian Legion, on the northwest corner of 135A Street and 106th Avenue, where he resumed his wait for his friend.

Some men then gathered in front of the truck, yelling in their direction, and the prostitute told Griffith she owed them money.

She seemed afraid, so Griffith stepped out, told the men he didn’t want any problems, got a baseball bat from the back of the truck and put it on the dashboard. The court heard he concluded this was “probably not a good place to be” after one of the men picked up a metal pipe and another, a piece of wood.

The court heard the prostitute told him these guys were dangerous and that they should leave before they get killed.

As they approached, Griffith revved the engine in a bid to frighten them off, and noticed other people were blocking the north exit to 135A. By now the men were coming closer and holding their weapons in the air, in a menacing way.

In his attempt to escape, Griffith hit Paterson in a vacant lot, and the latter died of multiple blunt force trauma injuries.

Griffith testified he thought he’d hit a tree stump or rut and denied knowing that he hit Paterson, but the trial judge did not believe him.

After hitting Patterson, Griffith drove for about six blocks, parked, and loaned his phone to the prostitute so she could call a cab. Griffith was arrested roughly 80 minutes after the collision, about two blocks away from the collision scene.

Griffith appealed his convictions but Fitch dismissed the appeal, finding no error on the trial judge’s part.

Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justice John Hunter concurred.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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