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Judge finds convicted gaybasher 100 percent liable for damages

'Would-be bashers take note,' says Smith

"We as a group need to stand up and fight back. The legal system has sent a very strong and unyielding message," says Jordan Smith, who fought back through the courts after Michael Kandola (above) broke his jaw in a 2008 gaybashing. Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth photo

A BC judge has found Michael Kandola 100 percent liable for damages in a civil suit following his criminal conviction for gaybashing Jordan Smith, Smith’s lawyer says.

Smith says he’s pleased with the ruling. Kandola now faces the full consequences of his actions, he says.

“The legal system has done its job. We are not completely finished, but this just affirms that his behaviour is not and will not be tolerated in our society,” he says.

Smith and his partner, Charles McKay, were walking hand in hand on Davie St in September 2008 when a group of men swarmed them, taunted them with anti-gay slurs then broke Smith’s jaw and left him unconscious on the ground.

In convicting Kandola in April, Justice Joel Groves called the assault “vicious” and “senseless.”

Kandola was sentenced to 17 months in prison. Minus five months for time served, the ruling meant Kandola would spend a year behind bars.

“Hatred is a motivation in this crime,” the judge added. “There is no other explanation for what happened on that date.”

Smith filed a civil suit against Kandola in October 2008.

The suit alleged Smith suffered jaw fractures, contusions and swelling to his head, a soft-tissue neck injury and injury to his foot and ankle. It sought damages for pain and suffering.

Smith’s father, Howard Smith, filed the suit in New Westminster Supreme Court. He said the damages could top $100,000.

Last month, a BC Supreme Court judge in New Westminster found Kandola liable for damages, says Smith’s sister, Kendal Paul, the lawyer who handled the case.

Paul says no one was in court to represent Kandola, and that he did not file a response to the lawsuit.

She says the case now moves to a damages phase.

“It’s a matter of collecting all of the evidence of damages befallen by Jordan Smith,” she explains.

While Smith doubts she’ll be able to get any money out of Kandola, it’s often the awarding of monetary damages, rather than jail time, that hurts a convicted person more, she says.

“I want to send a message to people that if you hold intolerant and radical views, and you choose to act in this way, you will go to prison, but also you will be hit hard in the pocket book. You will pay dearly for your actions,” adds Jordan Smith.

In addition to general damages, Smith’s statement of claim sought “exemplary and punitive damages for outrageous, hateful and discriminatory behaviour towards an unarmed and unaware victim.”

The suit alleged that “Without warning, without provocation and without cause of any kind, the defendant, Michael Singh Kandola, delivered a powerful blow to the left cheek of the plaintiff, Jordan Madison Smith, causing immediate unconciousness, multiple fractures of the left (jaw) . . .”

It described the blow as a “sucker punch” and the attack as “cowardly.”

And it said that Kandola then “with a clenched fist and angry face, bent over the then-unconscious plaintiff . . . and shouted further expletives respecting the sexual orientation of the plaintiff.”

Smith says both the criminal and civil cases are part of his decision to fight back against homophobic violence.

“I am fighting intolerance, ignorance, injustice or homophobia,” he says. “I made the choice to put a face to this story, because I wanted to make change. I wanted the public to see what gays and lesbians face.

“We as a group need to stand up and fight back. The legal system has sent a very strong and unyielding message. Would-be bashers take note: we will no longer be apathetic or indifferent. We will fight back. There will be consequences,” Smith says.

Kandola is in prison and can’t be contacted for comment.

No date has been set for the damages hearing.