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Kandola pleads guilty

Crown will seek hate crime designation at sentencing in April

Michael Kandola pleaded guilty today to assaulting Jordan Smith on Davie St in September 2008. But his lawyer maintains it wasn't a gaybashing. The Crown will argue it was at sentencing Apr 26. Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth

The man accused of aggravated assault in the vicious gaybashing of Jordan Smith in Vancouver in September 2008 has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault causing bodily harm.

“You admit you committed the assault causing bodily harm of Mr. Jordan Smith,” BC Supreme Court Justice Bill Smart asked Michael Kandola.

“Yes,” said Kandola, appearing by closed circuit TV March 31.

Kandola sat quietly for the rest of the proceedings, clad in orange prison garb and sporting a new beard.

He will return to court for sentencing April 26 where the Crown is expected to present evidence that the assault was motivated by hatred.

Crown prosecutor Dasein Nearing told reporters the Crown intends to present evidence that hate was an aggravating factor in the incident.

However, defence lawyer Danny Markovitz says Kandola intends to fight such a designation being attached to his sentence.

“To him, it’s mortifying to be labelled as someone like that, and he wants the gay community to know he has absolutely no ill feeling toward them,” Markovitz says.

The maximum sentence for assault causing bodily harm is 10 years. The addition of a hate crime designation would likely increase whatever punishment Kandola receives for the assault.

Nearing said Kandola has already served four months in jail since his arrest. Under current law, he is eligible for that to be doubled, meaning he will receive an eight-month credit toward whatever sentence is handed down.

Justice Smart will not be the sentencing judge.

He told Nearing and Markovitz he would make a note that hate motivation will be an issue at the sentencing hearing so the next judge is aware of it.

Kandola is expected to be in court in person for sentencing.

Smith is in Toronto for work and unavailable for comment. He says he will be in court for the sentencing.

Smith was holding hands with another man on Davie St at Hornby when he was attacked by five men, including Kandola.

The group allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs, including “You fucking faggot!”

Kandola then sucker punched Smith, who fell to the ground unconscious, his jaw broken.

Kandola allegedly screamed homophobic obscenities throughout the incident.

Markovitz has characterized the words as  “stupid, juvenile.” He concedes they were homophobic but not fueled by hate.

Smith wound up in hospital and had to have his jaw wired shut for a month and a half to heal.

Markovitz says a tape taken from a security camera will be played as part of the two-day sentencing hearing scheduled to take place April 26-27 in BC Supreme Court.

Kandola was facing a second count of uttering threats to cause bodily harm towards the man Smith was holding hands with, but that charge was dropped when Kandola pleaded guilty to the assault.

Kandola has been in custody since his bail was revoked last month after he was charged with robbery and use of an imitation firearm in connection with a jewellery store robbery in Surrey in June 2009.