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Man who attacked nurses ordered to pay more after contempt hearing

Bruce (Randy) Van Horlick leaving the Moncton courthouse in 2020.  (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
Bruce (Randy) Van Horlick leaving the Moncton courthouse in 2020. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

An eastern New Brunswick man who assaulted nurses at a hospital in Moncton has been ordered to pay more after a hearing Wednesday over whether he should be held in contempt of court.

Bruce (Randy) Van Horlick, 74, was found guilty in 2020 of two criminal charges of assault and sentenced to six months in jail for attacking nurse manager Natasha Poirier and nurse Teresa Thibeault at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital in 2019.

Poirier sued Van Horlick, and in 2022 he was ordered to pay her $1.3 million. The decision triggered a hearing over his finances and where the money could come. Van Horlick walked out of that hearing in 2022, which left the process unfinished.

Poirier's lawyers asked a judge to find Van Horlick in contempt of court and potentially face jail time. Van Horlick arrived almost 30 minutes late Wednesday for a hearing on that request. He was repeatedly urged by Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette to not walk out again.

"I will tell you when it's time to leave," Ouellette said.

"If you follow my instructions, I have no intention of sending you for a period of incarceration. Don't push me there."

Teresa Thibeault (left) and Natasha Poirier said they would like to see Van Horlick show remorse, and serve jail time for their assaults.
Teresa Thibeault (left) and Natasha Poirier said they would like to see Van Horlick show remorse, and serve jail time for their assaults.

Teresa Thibeault, left, and Natasha Poirier were assaulted by Van Horlick while working in 2019. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The judge told him he needed to complete the hearing before the contempt issue could be resolved.

Van Horlick then completed the examination by Rena Levesque in a small fifth-floor hearing room, answering a series of questions about the sources of his income and his holdings. At one point Poirier's lawyer began asking about some of his belongings.

Van Horlick alleged his home was broken into while serving his jail sentence. He said he reported it to police, but they didn't investigate.

"For the legal system out here, I have nothing but disdain so far," said Van Horlick, who previously lived in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. "I've been nothing but shafted so far."

"We're trying not to blame anyone," Levesque said.

"Well I do," he replied.

He made several comments Wednesday blaming Poirier for what happened to him.

Kelly VanBuskirk, lawyer for Natasha Poirier, said that the criminal trial and subsequent civil suit against Van Horlick has been a long process for his client.
Kelly VanBuskirk, lawyer for Natasha Poirier, said that the criminal trial and subsequent civil suit against Van Horlick has been a long process for his client.

Kelly VanBuskirk, a lawyer for Poirier, says he believes the evidence shows Van Horlick was in contempt of court. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

Poirier's lawyer, Kelly VanBuskirk, said they still want Van Horlick's banking and tax records to verify his finances. He reported an income of under $23,000 on his 2023 taxes, and told Levesque he has about $1,000 in cash.

Levesque ordered him to provide those records going back to 2019 within 30 days.

Once that is provided, Levesque will prepare a report about his finances to determine what he can pay toward the $1.3 million.

Levesque said she could order him to pay but could also determine he doesn't have the means to do so.

"I certainly don't want to issue an order to make a payment you can't," Levesque said.

Van Horlick repeatedly said through the hearing that he can't afford a lawyer for the process, as well as pending dental and vehicle expenses.

After finishing the hearing with Levesque, Van Horlick went back into a courtroom with Ouellette to continue the discussion about the contempt issue.

Poirier's lawyer said that since Van Horlick had completed the hearing, the issue was largely settled.

"I think the evidence demonstrates that he was in contempt," VanBuskirk said.

The lawyer asked the judge to order Van Horlick to pay some of the costs of the process, though.

"What about my costs?" Van Horlick said. "I'm not in contempt, I'm not in contempt of the court."

Ouellette ordered him to pay $1,000, saying he was to blame because he walked out of the earlier hearing.

"I don't think $1,000 is without reason, it's not a big amount, it could have been worse than that," the judge said.

Poirier was overseeing a surgical unit where Van Horlick's wife was a patient on March 11, 2019 when he demanded she be moved to a different room.

He pulled Poirier from her chair by her hair, punched her on the temple, twisted an arm backward, twisted several of her fingers backward, threw her against a wall and assaulted another nurse who came to help.

She testified during the lawsuit trial she was left unable to work and that Vitalité Health Network had terminated her in 2021.