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Kandola back behind bars

Gaybasher pleads guilty to jewellery store robbery

Back in jail: convicted gaybasher Michael Kandola has now pleaded guilty to robbing a jewellery store. Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth photo

The man convicted of attacking Jordan Smith for holding hands with another man on Davie St in September 2008 is back behind bars.

In June 2011 in Surrey Provincial Court, Michael Kandola, 24, pleaded guilty to robbing a Surrey jewellery store three years ago. On June 18, 2012, he was sentenced to 20 months in jail for a single count of theft, according to court records.

On June 5, 2009, three men walked into a jewellery store in Surrey. After browsing display cases, one pulled out a handgun, ordering the people working in the store to the floor. The two other suspects jumped over the counter to steal jewellery. A woman staffer was assaulted after not immediately responding to the robbers’ requests.

The suspects ran from the store with about $500,000 worth of merchandise.

Kandola was arrested and charged in December 2009. He was initially charged with two counts of robbery and using an imitation firearm.

Co-accused Satpal Heer was arrested the following April, while the third suspect, who had the firearm, has not been charged. The case is still under investigation.

Heer too pleaded guilty to robbery. He received the same sentence as Kandola.

In sentencing Kandola for assaulting Smith in April 2010, Justice Joel Groves called the gaybashing “vicious” and “senseless” and said a severe sentence was needed.

“It is hard to fathom in this day and age how two men holding hands can cause such a visceral reaction in the accused,” Groves ruled. “In Canada, people are free to live their lives as they choose, be they heterosexual or homosexual.”

Smith and his boyfriend had been walking up Davie St holding hands when they heard taunts of “Faggots,” “What the fuck is this?” and “Why are you faggots holding hands?” from a group of men behind them.

When Kandola and his friends swarmed them, Kandola sucker-punched Smith, breaking his jaw. Then he stood over Smith’s unconscious body screaming homophobic slurs and threats.

Groves said Kandola’s sentence should act as deterrence to those who might also consider committing crimes motivated by hatred.

“Those who act like he [Kandola] did on Sept 27, 2008, must know that there are real consequences for their behaviour,” Groves said.

Groves sentenced Kandola to 17 months in prison for his assault on Smith. His ruling helped establish a test for gaybashings, and the court’s ability to recognize hate-crime motivation, in BC.