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Sentencing delayed for man who assaulted lesbian couple

Andrew Joseph Walko will return to court in March for sentencing report

Jacqueline Clarke and Ali Matson say a man attacked them as they got off the Hastings bus at Commercial Drive. Credit: Rob Easton

The man charged in connection with a 2013 assault on two lesbians who were exiting a Hastings Street bus will return to court March 4 for a pre-sentencing report and to set a date for his sentencing, a justice of the peace ordered Jan 12.

Andrew Joseph Walko, 46, pleaded guilty Nov 12 to assault and assault causing bodily harm. A pre-sentencing report was requested, but Crown prosecutor Jenny Machek tells Xtra there was a misunderstanding about the completion of the report, necessitating a new date and an extension of Walko’s bail by Justice of the Peace Laura Caporale.

An unshaven Walko, clad in a T-shirt and windbreaker, appeared in court with his lawyer, David Tarnow.

The Vancouver Police Department announced the charges against Walko on Jan 14, 2014. TransLink surveillance footage shows a man boarding a Number 135 bus westbound at about 5:15pm on Sept 18, 2013, at Hastings and Kensington in Burnaby; Ali Matson and her girlfriend, Jacqueline Clarke, boarded the bus 45 minutes later at Hastings and Renfrew.

The couple allege that the man followed them as they left the bus at Commercial Drive and attacked them.

“He grabbed me by the shoulder, and he punched me in the face with all his body strength,” Matson told Xtra soon after. “My nose was bleeding everywhere, and he gave me two black eyes. He was not holding back at all.”

Clarke, leaving the bus behind Matson, yelled at the approximately six-foot-three, 200-plus-pounds man to stop. She says she attempted to pull him off, but he overpowered her and allegedly punched her multiple times in the head as well.

“It was so terrifying because I remember I just sort of watched it all happen and then he turned on me,” she said.

Matson and Clarke believe they were attacked because of their sexual orientation after they exchanged a kiss and were flirting during the bus ride. “He just did not like to see two girls kissing,” Matson suggests.

An accused found guilty in a summary conviction of assault causing bodily harm is liable to imprisonment for a maximum of 18 months.