Delays in the trial of the youth charged in an alleged Dec 13, 2009, gaybashing off Commercial Dr continue as the accused has now fired his second lawyer.
The trial had been set for three days starting Aug 22, having been postponed from an earlier March 29 trial date. The March trial had to be rescheduled because the accused’s lawyer had inadvertently been double-booked and asked for an adjournment.
The case is now set for Sept 1 after a judge agreed to another adjournment on Aug 18.
The youth, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 17 at the time of the alleged offence, originally pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm on May 20, 2010.
Last fall, however, the youth fired his first lawyer and got a new one. He subsequently changed his initial guilty plea to not guilty, thus necessitating a trial.
Before he changed his plea, his sentencing had been scheduled to begin on July 6, 2010, but was delayed to Sept 29 because of inconsistencies in a presentencing report. Crown prosecutor Shannon Smith told Judge Jodie Werier the report contained “very significant” differences between the accused’s version of events and those of the victim and witnesses.
That’s when the youth fired his first lawyer.
Twice, warrants have been prepared for the youth’s arrest when he has been late or he and his lawyer have not attended court.
Eleven months have now gone by since Justice of the Peace Judy Norton called the case “very, very old.”
The man the youth allegedly attacked needed surgery to fix his jaw, which was broken in the attack. Billy (who gave Xtra only his first name) said he was leaving a house party with friends 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 called me a ‘fucking faggot,’ ‘you fucking gay,’ ‘you piece of shit,’ ‘you’re worthless’ — just kept on calling me ‘fag, fag, fag.'”
Asked how long the youth can keep delaying the case, Criminal Justice Branch spokesperson Neil MacKenzie says the Crown opposed the latest adjournment as it opposed the last one.
“Crown took the position that it was time for the matter to proceed,” he says.
But, he tells Xtra, the judge exercised her discretion in allowing the adjournment.
It remains to be seen if the case will be pursued as a hate crime, a designation added at sentencing — if the case ever gets that far.
Meanwhile, David Holtzman and Peter Regier will be in court on Nov 7 for the trial of the brothers who allegedly attacked them on June 12, 2010, hurling a “barrage” of homophobic slurs and physically attacking them.
Holtzman says the two men repeatedly called him and Regier “fucking faggots” and “cocksuckers” before attacking them. Both sustained concussions. Regier required staples to close a head wound.
Parminder Singh Peter Bassi is charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the incident, while Ravinder Robbie Bassi is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm. That trial is set to start on Nov 7 in Vancouver Provincial Court.
Holtzman calls the delays in the youth case “disappointing.”
“Our communities need to see this violence reviewed in court and addressed as soon as possible,” he tells Xtra.
“Hopefully, justice will be served, and we’ll end up with a better, safer city.”