‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

A B.C. man apologized to a judge on Thursday for stripping naked and jumping into a shark tank at a Toronto aquarium last year only to moments later say outside court that he did not regret his actions.

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Toronto on Oct. 12, bought a ticket, then stripped naked and jumped into the facility’s shark tank, court heard.

“I just want to take the time to apologize for wasting your time your honour, the court’s time, and for my actions of last year,” Weaver said to the judge after pleading guilty to one count of mischief.

But after court, Weaver said he was not inebriated, he just had ”a couple of drinks.”

“I’d do it again,” a smiling Weaver told reporters.

He will serve a 12-month suspended sentence, must attend counselling and cannot return to Ripley’s.

The prosecutor admonished Weaver for his actions that night.

READ MORE: Nelson man who jumped in Toronto shark tank naked pleads guilty to mischief

“His behaviour was more than foolhardy, it was criminal,” said Crown attorney Heather Keating. “There is no other explanation other than attention seeking.”

Court heard Weaver, 38, has a criminal record and has struggled with alcohol abuse for the past two decades ever since his brother murdered his father when he was only 15 years old.

The murder had a major effect on Weaver’s life, his lawyer Blair Drummie told court.

“That was part of why he’s acted out in the past,” he said as Weaver looked down at a paper clip he fiddled with.

Weaver never sought counselling for his father’s death, Drummie said.

About 18 years ago, Weaver moved to B.C., where he worked at various times as a firefighter, tree planter and most recently as a fishing guide on the Pacific Ocean, his lawyer said. He has been seeing a counsellor since jumping into the shark tank.

Drummie said his client is not an animal activist, but “he just doesn’t like seeing animals in cages.”

“That in combination with excess alcohol is the main reason as to why (he did it.)”

Ripley’s declined to comment on the guilty plea. The aquarium previously told The Canadian Press that its surveillance footage showed a man and a woman buy tickets to the event at 10 p.m. and made their way directly to the “dangerous lagoon,” the 2.9 million-litre tank that is the centrepiece of the tourist attraction.

The park said the man jumped into the pool at 10:26 p.m.

“You can see Mr. Weaver is naked, but you can also see he is fairly unfazed by his behaviour,” the Crown lawyer said as she played a video in court of Weaver swimming naked in the pool. There was a large crowd gathered near the main lagoon as part of a regular “jazz night.” It was one of the videos captured by those in attendance, the Crown said.

Weaver swam around the tank and at one point, at the urging of security guards, climbed out of the tank before performing a back dive into the water to loud cheers from the crowd.

Sand tiger sharks, sawfish, moray eels and turtles swam in the massive lagoon, Keating said.

After five minutes, Weaver got out of the water, grabbed his clothes and left.

“He jeopardized the health and safety of animals in the tank who are in a highly controlled marine environment,” she said. ”He shocked and in some cases frightened visitors, who included young children, worried about the sharks.”

Police arrived within seven minutes, Ripley’s previously said, but by then Weaver and the woman were long gone.

The Crown noted the infamy related to the actions that were captured on video and made news around the world.

Weaver was arrested four days later near Thunder Bay, Ont., during a vehicle stop and spent three nights in jail, court heard.

Drummie said Weaver has been working hard to make amends over the past year, including a $500 donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

Police have also alleged that earlier that night Weaver assaulted a man outside Medieval Times, a jousting-themed dinner theatre. A window was also allegedly broken.

Weaver was charged with assault and mischief in that earlier incident, which is now being dealt with separately by the court.

He is scheduled to face trial on those charges next month.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Danielle Groenendijk raised more than twice her goal for Parkinson’s Canada. (Photo submitted)
VIU volleyball athlete doubles fundraising goal for Parkinson’s

Daily runs over 30 days by Groenendijk add up to 254 kilometres

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New street signs in Duncan in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional native names on signs

Possible COVID-19 exposures may have occurred at Alexander Elementary School on Jan. 13, 14 and 15. (Google Maps)
Alexander Elementary in Duncan announces possible COVID-19 exposures

Exposures may have occurred on Jan. 13, 14 and 15

North Cowichan to add three more off-leash dog areas in the new year. (File photo)
North Cowichan adds three new off-leash areas

Trial program runs through 2021, but not the summer months

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Most Read