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Accused gaybasher’s sentencing delayed

Due to 'significant' discrepancies between his account of the incident and everyone else's

The sentencing hearing for the youth accused of gaybashing a man on Commercial Dr last December has been delayed due to inconsistencies in a pre-sentencing report.

The youth pleaded guilty on May 20 to assault causing bodily harm.

The sentencing was due to begin on July 6.

However, Crown prosecutor Shannon Smith told Vancouver Youth Court judge Jodie Werier “the accused’s version of events differs from the victim’s and the witnesses’ [accounts].”

Smith called the differences “very significant.”

The accused was 17 at the time of the offence but turned 18 on December 30. He cannot be named under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The victim in the Commercial Dr attack needed surgery for a broken jaw after allegedly being targeted with homophobic slurs and repeatedly punched and kicked.

In an interview with Xtra on December 14, Billy, who would give onlyhis first name, said he was leaving a house party with friends the night before when a man standing nearby began to harass them.

“He pushed my girlfriend on the floor. I went to help her up and he kicked me in the face by my eye,” Billy alleged.

“He was trying to follow my lady friends, who were with me,” Billy alleged. “I was like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ and he was like, ‘Shut up, you fucking fag,’ and then he just started beating me.

“He called me a fucking faggot, you fucking gay, you piece of shit, you’re worthless – just kept on calling me fag, fag, fag,” Billy alleged.

The youth’s lawyer, Ken Roesch, told Werier his client had considered withdrawing his guilty plea but decided to let it stand.

However, the discrepancies between the youth’s account of the incident and the account given by Billy and the witnesses still has to be addressed.

To deal with the discrepancies, the court will now hear witnesses in the case, so evidence will become part of the sentencing phase.

The Crown expects to call four witnesses while the defence may call two.

Asked if the Crown intends to pursue the case as a hate crime, Smith referred inquiries to Crown spokesperson Neil Mackenzie.

Mackenzie could not be reached for comment.

Smith says her submissions at sentencing will be lengthy.

Police reported receiving a call about a number of people fighting around 5am on December 13 at E 3rd and Commercial Dr.

Vancouver Police Department Const Jana McGuinness told Xtra at the time that it was a verbal altercation which turned into physical violence.

Asked if the police report indicates homophobic remarks were made during the incident, McGuinness said there was “an indication that some statements were made to the victim by the person who assaulted him,” but declined to elaborate.