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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Court in uproar over racism sentence (Canada)

Victim arrested after man who attacked Asian anglers jailed 2 years
Emotions erupted in the Newmarket courthouse Friday as a Sutton man was sentenced to two years less a day in jail for a racist attack on Asian anglers, and one of the victims – upset at the light sentence – wound up handcuffed and arrested.
Justice Alfred Stong found that Trevor Middleton, 23, was motivated partly by racism when he and three truckloads of Georgina Township youths shoved Ruohang Liu, 24, and Charles Hogan, 24, into Lake Simcoe early in the morning of Sept. 16, 2007, in the type of attack some locals referred to as "Nip-" or "Nipper-tipping." One of their friends was left with permanent brain damage in the attack.
Loud sighs, sobs and swearing were heard in the packed courtroom after the judge read his sentence, which also included three years' probation, a 10-year driving ban and an order for Middleton to take cultural sensitivity training.
"There is no justice in Canada," an Asian-Canadian man shouted in the hallway of the courthouse.
Liu was handcuffed and arrested by police after the armrest of a courthouse chair was thrown at a hallway window, shattering it. Police did not immediately comment on whether he had been charged.
Liu said he has nightmares about the attack, which left his friend, Shayne Berwick, 26, with brain damage and requiring a wheelchair.
"I will not go fishing ever in Canada again," Liu said in his victim impact statement. "I no longer trust anyone I meet. I feel like I can only trust people I have from the past."
In sentencing Middleton, the judge noted that he had no criminal record before a jury found him guilty of four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
The judge also noted that Middleton, a professional motorcycle racer, was only 20 at the time of the attacks near what locals call the Blue Bridge, at Mossington Park near Jackson's Point.
Four police squad cars pulled up in front of the courthouse as angry spectators left the building. Middleton's lawyer, Gerald Logan, was cursed as he walked out.
The Crown had sought a sentence of eight to 10 years.
Berwick's father, Colin, shook his head in disbelief outside court as his wife, Terry, cried. Hate crime legislation has proved to be toothless, he said, adding, "That didn't do any good, did it?"
A man who was in Liu's car as it was rammed repeatedly by Middleton's pickup and forced off the road into a tree said the violence still haunts him. "I fear for the future," said Shiv Kumar, 24. "I feel that I am not wanted in the community."
Toronto lawyer Susan Eng, part of a coalition of Asian-Canadians who monitored the case, said it was a victory the attack was recognized as a hate crime. "This wasn't an individual case. This is something that belongs to the community."
Toronto Star