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Russell Young dies

Gaybashing victim dies during surgery

BACK IN FEBRUARY. Russell Young is seen here leaving Vancouver's Main St courthouse Feb 12, after Judge Maria Giardini acquitted one of his alleged attackers and convicted Ravinder Toor of assault causing bodily harm. Credit: Natasha Barsotti photo

The story of a local gay man’s experience of violence and recovery has concluded tragically.

On Oct 29 Russell Young died during surgery, three years after a brutal assault that many in the gay community, but not the courts, would deem a hate crime.

The assault, which took place during Pride 2005 in front of the Esso station at the corner of Davie and Burrard Sts, resulted in numerous medical problems for Young. At the time, St Paul’s hospital staff treated him for a severely split lip, facial swelling, internal bleeding, and a badly fractured lower right leg.

Members of the gay community may recall that the trial was drawn out over a long period of time, in part because of scheduling errors that initially led to the charges against Young’s two alleged attackers being stayed.

In February of this year, Ravinder Toor was convicted of assault causing bodily harm; he later received three months house arrest and six additional months of probation as punishment.

Co-accused Randeep Cheema was acquitted.

The Crown could not prove that Toor’s crime was motivated by hate. 

Only months after seeing his assailant sentenced, a friend close to Young says he went in for another in a long list of follow-up surgeries to correct his improperly healed broken bones.

In court, Young alleged that Toor was responsible for his leg fracture, but lawyers for the defence challenged the claim.

Judge Maria Giardini found it unnecessary to rule on the matter because the nature of Young’s other injuries fulfilled the requirement for “bodily harm.”

The difficulty of linking the attack directly to Young’s death, and the fact that Toor has already been convicted for the assault, means that the likelihood of additional criminal charges being laid is extremely slim, says criminal lawyer Garth Barriere. 

The official cause of death has not been released at this time.