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Hammer attacker found guilty of 19 charges

But judge says it's not a hate crime

The man who attacked multiple people with a hammer in the Davie Village last Pride has been convicted of 19 offences — none of which has been designated a hate crime.

In contrast to recent practice, Crown counsel actually sought a hate crime designation in this case but a provincial court judge rejected it.

It’s the first time in six years that Crown counsel has sought a hate crime designation on the basis of homophobia in a Vancouver case.

Daniel Porte, the Crown counsel who prosecuted the case, says his argument that homophobia motivated Khalid Alzghoul’s 2008 hammer attack derived from “things [Alzghoul] said to police officers” at the time of his arrest.

According to Porte, Alzghoul asked police, “How can you be a cop when you let them celebrate on God’s day — on Sunday?”

“He screamed at one police officer, ‘Are you a fucking lesbian? You let them celebrate fucking gays? This is justice day, the day of the lord. I believe in justice.’

“He says that he believes in a Christian God, he knew Jesus was not gay and it was wrong to allow gays to parade on a Sunday,” Porte told Xtra West after Alzghoul was sentenced.

Porte also notes that Alzghoul made another statement to police, about which the evidence is unclear. “He said one of two things: he said he was either sent to punish them, ‘This is judgment day,’ or he is punishing them, ‘This is judgment day,’” Porte says.

Alzghoul was charged with 25 offenses in August 2008 after he left the Tutti Convenience Store on Davie St and began attacking people with a hammer at the adjacent Majestic’s Pride party.

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) spokesperson Const Jana McGuinness told Xtra West at the time that Alzghoul, who has “some history of mental illness,” struck a man in the head with a hammer “without warning,” knocking him to the ground unconscious.

“He continued on what would become a spree of violent random assaults by next striking a doorman from Majestic in the head as well as three patrons on the patio,” McGuinness said.

Alzghoul then fled the Majestic, attacked two women sitting on the patio at nearby Characters restaurant, and fled again.

Police found Alzghoul struggling near Thurlow and Davie Sts with the husband of one of the two women, who had chased him when he fled Characters. Alzghoul was taken into custody and “an imitation firearm, two knives and a hammer were seized by police,” McGuinness said after the arrest.

“I did hear that someone heard him ranting, saying a lot of things, so it’s possible he could have said something,” McGuinness told Xtra West at the time, promising that police would “look into it further.”

Porte declined to comment when asked if he was disappointed with judge T D’Arcy McGee’s ruling rejecting hate as a motivating factor in the attacks.

Porte would only say “the Crown’s position was that it was a crime that was motivated by hate.”

“There was no evidence other than at the point of the arrest that there was any comments made by him,” Porte notes.

In the end, the judge found that it “wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the offences are motivated by hate,” he says.

Alzghoul’s lawyer, Debra Carpentier, says the court’s ruling is “completely justified.”

There was not “sufficient evidence with respect to a hate crime motivation from the outset and I made that clear to the court,” Carpentier told Xtra West Nov 12.

Porte says the context of the attacks was an important consideration in his assessment of hate motivation. 

“It’s an attack on an important weekend — it’s the gay Pride parade,” Porte explains. He points to the Majestic as a gay-friendly location.

“It’s got banners up. It’s quite clear, I think, they’re celebrating Pride at that location. We have to put that into context. We have the locations where things took place.”

McGee found Alzghoul, who was charged with 25 offenses, guilty of 19 including assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats, using an imitation firearm in the course of committing an offence and possessing dangerous weapons.

Alzghoul was sentenced to two and half years in jail Sep 2 but will serve only four months of that sentence after receiving credit for time already served while awaiting trial.

The Crown had sought a four to five year prison sentence.