Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

B.C. mom-toddler assault accused gets probation for other charges

"I am praying for forgiveness from the community," Shakwan David Kelly told a judge.
Shakwan David Kelly pleaded guilty to four counts of assault and one for wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

A man charged in connection with an incident involving a mother and her toddler in Vancouver’s Chinatown has been sentenced to three years’ probation for four other assaults.

Vancouver provincial court Judge James Bahen heard Shakwan David Kelly has schizophrenia and was off his medication at the time of the summer 2022 incidents. He was also using crystal methamphetamine, the court heard.

It was that combination that led to Kelly, 28, to become easily slighted, unpredictable and violent, lawyers told Bahen. The judge said Kelly’s mental illnesses, when under proper medical treatment, do not require ongoing incarceration. With careful supervision, Kelly can be re-integrated into the community, said Bahen.

“When Mr. Kelly does not take his medication, Mr. Kelly can cause a lot of havoc in the community,” the judge said.

Kelly has been in custody 255 days. With credit for pre-sentencing custody, that translates to 383 days.

Kelly has pleaded guilty to four counts of assault and one of wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer. He did not plead guilty to the incident involving the mother and child, an incident seen widely on video replayed in local media.

Crown prosecutor Sharon Preston requested 14 to 16 months in jail plus probation while defence lawyer Jessica Dawkins asked for time served.

Kelly told the court he was not in his right mind at the time of the offences.

“I am very sorry for my actions. I have hurt people,” he said. “I am working on being rehabilitated. I am praying for forgiveness from the community.”

Kelly’s mother, Laverne Kelly, also addressed Bahen. She said the crimes he committed are not part of his true nature.

“Shakwan was not of sound mind at the time he committed these actions,” said the mother, who has been at all of her son’s court appearances. “He is deserving of a well-fulfilled happy . . . life.”

The incidents

Kelly pleaded guilty to a June 20, 2022 assault on a bus at Main Street and Marine Drive.

Preston said he got “into the face” of a woman and raised his fists. When the woman went to speak to the driver, Kelly followed and punched her several times in the head.

Another guilty plea related to assaults on two men at Vancouver General Hospital July 9, 2022.

Kelly had been found wandering the halls of the hospital and was asked to check in. He refused and then entered a restricted area. Again, he was asked to check in and told if he did not, he would be ejected from the building. 

“Without provocation, Mr. Kelly began swinging with closed fists, striking both men the head several times,” Preston said. “They both had injuries that were quite serious. They both had concussions.”

Then, Preston said shortly before the alleged July 9, 2022 assault on the mother and child, a driver came across Kelly in the middle of a downtown street. Kelly kicked the vehicle and fled. Police soon followed.

Kelly took off running through Chinatown, striking and knocking over a 40-year-old mother and her toddler, who were standing on the south side of East Pender Street near Gore Avenue. The mom struck her head and the child suffered multiple scrapes. 

Kelly was arrested moments later on Main Street and was taken to jail. He was released from custody the next day after being charged with mischief, assault and obstructing a peace officer.

Kelly pleaded guilty to assaulting a man at The Kettle Friendship Society on Venables Street in East Vancouver. When he entered the building July 19, 2022, the man told him he was banned and could not enter. Kelly punched him in the arm and back and continued to assault him after he fell.

On the fifth count to which Kelly pleaded guilty, Preston said Kelly had been sleeping on the floor of a SkyTrain car July 22, 2022 when a man politely asked him to move from blocking the aisle.

Kelly punched him in the head six or seven times, Preston said, adding the victim was “completely shocked by the unexpected and sudden assault.”

The sentence

Much of Bahen's decision dealt with Kelly’s mental health issues and the fact he had not been taking his schizophrenia medication.

He noted a risk of violent recidivism if Kelly is not treated for schizophrenia and returns to the use of street drugs. He said Kelly was in psychosis at the time of the events in question, a condition that overwhelmed his thinking processes.

But, the judge said, Kelly will need assistance.

“If he’s going to be managed in the community, he’s going to need all the resources,” the judge said.

Bahen had asked for a medical report to be done after Kelly had been arrested and was held at B.C.’s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. The report noted when the time came for Kelly to be given medication, six staff members were injured in the process.

Since, then, Bahen noted, Kelly has responded well to treatment.