A Crown prosecutor says hate may have been a motivating factor in an alleged Canada Day gaybashing to which two men pleaded not guilty on Oct 25.
Alexandre Tchernychev and Aaron Alexander Hahn are both charged with assault causing bodily harm. Both men are 21 years old. Vancouver police investigated the incident as a possible hate crime.
Police said that at the time of the July 1 attack, a 30-year-old man was walking with friends along Davie St near Burrard when they passed a group of men and women at about 2:45am.
Suddenly, a member of the group turned and confronted the man, Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Const Jana McGuinness said. Words were exchanged and, without warning, the victim was allegedly punched in the face and knocked to the ground.
“Disturbing comments were also allegedly made regarding the victim’s sexual orientation,” McGuinness said.
Police said a second man allegedly joined in the attack after the victim had fallen to the ground. Police said the victim suffered facial injuries that required medical attention at the scene.
The alleged attackers fled but were arrested minutes later in the 1100 block of Davie St.
The case had been set for resolution without a trial at the Downtown Community Court on Oct 25, but that changed before Judge Thomas Gove.
With the not-guilty pleas, the case now moves to Vancouver Provincial Court at 222 Main St where a trial will be held June 23 and 24.
Crown prosecutor Alex Henderson told Gove the assault occurred near Davie and Burrard.
“There are some words at the beginning of the assault that could lead it to being motivated by hate or bias,” Henderson said.
The Crown expects to call five police and five civilian witnesses for the trial.
Tchernychev also pleaded guilty to breaching the conditions imposed after his arrest on the alleged assault. Among other conditions, he was told not to consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
Tchernychev was apprehended by police on July 7 and found to be smelling of alcohol and in possession of four beers, Henderson said.
“He has not had any alcohol since that breach,” lawyer Henry Brown told Gove. “Alcohol was a problem for him.”
Gove gave Tchernychev an absolute discharge in the breach case.