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Vandal suspect appears in court

Next appearance Dec 22

The man accused of vandalizing dozens of Capital Xtra’s newspaper boxes across the city last fall appeared in court Dec 8 to face mischief charges.

Thomas Strain, 47, was prepared to enter a guilty plea to four counts of mischief under $5,000 and one count of mischief over $5,000 but was advised by duty council to retain a lawyer before proceeding. The court agreed and set a new date for his next appearance.

“Whatever my plea, I’ve got nothing against lawyers,” he said outside the courtroom. “I don’t hate everybody.”

Strain originally thought he could represent himself but was grateful for duty council’s intervention. “The whole process is new to me,” he explained to reporters.

“I have no knowledge of the legal system.”

Over a four-month period starting with the 2005 Pride issue, Capital Xtra newspaper boxes were repeatedly targeted. Some were painted with swastikas or “HIV.” Others had paint spilled on them, were spray-painted, had their windows painted black, or had their doors repeatedly screwed shut with power tools so they couldn’t be opened.

The incidents were investigated by Ottawa Police’s Hate Crimes Unit and are being treated as hate crimes. Each time, only Capital Xtra boxes were targeted while adjacent newspaper boxes remained unharmed.

Strain will reappear before the court on Thu, Dec 22. He is scheduled to appear at 8:30am in Courtroom 5 at the Ottawa courthouse, 161 Elgin St.