'Still in shock': Complainant learns Crown stayed charges due to staff shortage

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'Still in shock': Complainant learns Crown stayed charges due to staff shortage

An Edmonton man who says he was assaulted with a crowbar and a box-cutter last February won't get his day in court.

Christopher Liburdi is a complainant in one of the 15 cases stayed by Edmonton's chief Crown prosecutor on Tuesday.

Shelley Bykewich cited a lack of resources as the reason for suspending more than 40 charges in total, including fraud, impaired driving, assaulting a peace officer and uttering threats.

The suspension of the 15 cases came after the Supreme Court decision in 2016 that says criminal cases should be completed within a "reasonable" length of time.

Liburdi, a parking enforcer, was braced for his alleged attacker's first court date on March 20. Charges against the man included assault with a weapon, intimidation and uttering threats.

He didn't find out the case had been stayed until Wednesday, when CBC News asked for an interview.

"I'm still in shock," Liburdi said.

While patrolling Edmonton's Tamarack neighbourhood, Liburdi noticed someone had parked in a private lot.

As Liburdi placed a clamp on one tire, he said a man in a nearby group started yelling and then approached with a box-cutter. 

"He was screaming, 'Get it off! Take it off, or else I'm going to kill you!' "

Liburdi ran back to his own car, jamming down the locks before calling police.

"Right when I locked my door, he was there trying to get into my car," he recalled. "Then, he ran to his car, not far from my car, opened his trunk and then grabbed what looked like a tire iron."

The man returned, brandishing the metal rod, and threatened to smash Liburdi's window if he didn't remove the tire clamp. Liburdi reversed and tried to flee, but said the man used a friend's car to block the parking lot entrance.

"I was driving, trying to dodge him," Liburdi said. "He came up to my window and started kicking my car, denting my car.

"I haven't really talked to anyone about this ... It was just really traumatic."

When police arrived, Liburdi said the man tried to escape into a nearby fitness centre. Police followed and arrested him on-scene.

"If I wasn't fast on my feet to get in my car, god knows what would have happened," Liburdi said. "I thought my life was in danger at the moment, and I've never felt that before. I was definitely scared."

'Just doing my job'

Deanne Elliott, Liburdi's mother, co-owns the parking enforcement company involved in the case. 

"I have many employees across Canada that are in a very vulnerable position," Elliott said.

"It affects me to this day, knowing that I put employees out there every day to do a job and not knowing if something like this could be repeated. These are the times that you wonder and you hope that everyone goes home safely at night."

After the assault, Elliott outfitted staff at RFM Parking with GoPro cameras and dashcams. Even still, she said her son's behaviour at work isn't back to normal.

"Every day, when I go out to work, I have to be cautious," Liburdi explained.

"I was just doing my job and I got attacked and now [the case] is just gone. I don't know what to say.

"It's just upsetting, you know?"

Elliott said she doesn't know how to protect her staff without help from Alberta's justice system. She worries another employee will run into the man who allegedly attacked her son.

"It's pretty disappointing to know that, especially with what happened, this gentleman is walking clear," she said.

"They have to maybe hire more judges. Do something. But to allow people to walk without ever being heard, I think that's wrong."