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Alleged Hastings bus attacker appears in court

Andrew Joseph Walko charged with assault causing bodily harm

Vancouver police released these photos, taken from TransLink surveillance footage, of the man they sought in connection with an alleged assault on a lesbian couple exiting a Hastings Street bus in September 2013. Credit: Vancouver Police Department

The man charged in connection with an alleged assault on two lesbians made his second court appearance in Vancouver Jan 17.

Andrew Joseph Walko, 45, is charged with assault and assault causing bodily harm in connection with the Sept 18 incident. The Vancouver Police Department announced the charges Jan 14.

Walko told Justice of the Peace T Hill that he had no lawyer and was applying for legal aid. Crown prosecutor Julie Robinson gave Walko a file of the particulars for his case for him to give to a lawyer or legal aid.

Walko refused to speak to reporters outside court.

Surveillance footage from TransLink shows a man boarding a westbound  #135 bus at Hastings and Kensington in Burnaby at about 5:15pm on the evening in question. The tape also shows Ali Matson and her girlfriend, Jacqueline Clarke, boarding the bus at 6pm at Hastings and Renfrew.

The women allege the man followed them as they left the bus at Commercial Drive, where he allegedly attacked them.

“He grabbed me by the shoulder, and he punched me in the face with all his body strength,” Matson claims. “My nose was bleeding everywhere, and he gave me two black eyes. He was not holding back at all.”

Matson and Clarke believe they were attacked because of their sexual orientation after they exchanged a kiss and were flirting during the bus ride. “He just did not like to see two girls kissing,” Matson suggests.

The alleged attacker was described as a Caucasian male, 35 to 40 years old, six feet tall and 220 pounds with short black-and-grey hair and facial stubble. He wore a black T-shirt, jeans and black shoes. The stocky, greying Walko wore a black jacket, burnt-orange T-shirt and black shoes when he appeared in court.

Vancouver police Constable Randy Fincham said earlier in the case that police take the allegation that the crime was motivated by the women’s sexual orientation very seriously and that their hate-crimes unit has reviewed the file.

Walko is due to return to court Feb 7.