The trial of two Squamish men charged in the alleged gaybashing of another man on Davie St two years ago finally got underway Oct 3 in provincial court.
Ravinder Toor and Randeep Cheema are accused of assault causing bodily harm in connection with the Jul 30, 2005 beating of Russell Young outside the Esso gas station on the corner of Davie and Burrard Sts.
The alleged attack left Young with a deep cut to his upper lip, swelling to his nose, internal bleeding and a badly fractured lower right leg for which he has undergone multiple surgeries.
Young was the fourth witness Crown counsel Alison De Smet called on the first day of trial.
Young testified that he was sitting on a bench outside the gas station’s convenience store having a sandwich and coffee after an evening at the PumpJack and Numbers where he’d consumed “12 or more drinks,” when a taxi pulled up near one of the gas pumps.
As one of the two passengers exited the taxi’s right rear, Young says he acknowledged him, then heard him utter “something at me.”
What Young says he heard was: “We know your kind, or we hate your kind, or something to that effect.”
Asked by De Smet to explain what he thought the remark meant, Young told the court he believes the man knew he was gay by his clothes, which included a multicoloured Pride bracelet on one of Young’s hands.
Young says he blew the remark off, then asked the driver of the cab to call him a taxi. The next thing he knew, he was allegedly “getting punched” and kicked and yelling, “Help, help me!”
Young says he remembers the first hit coming from the right side, after which he stood up from the bench. At that point, he alleges one of the accused was “very close, maybe a foot” off to his right, with the other accused about a foot behind the first.
After standing up, Young says he was hit again, a blow which knocked him to the ground, and that he was kicked on the right leg and in the “ankle area.”
Asked by De Smet if he fought back, Young says, “No, not at all.” He says he lost consciousness in the midst of the alleged attack and woke up to find himself still at the gas station being helped by a paramedic.
Young was eventually taken to the emergency room at St Paul’s Hospital. His injuries included a split lip, loose front teeth, a bruised right temple, and internal bleeding discovered later on during his hospital stay.
Young says he had to have an operation to insert a rod and screws into his right leg to stabilize it. Severed nerves in his right foot also led to a loss of sensation —perhaps permanently —in the tip of that foot, he told the court.
In September last year, Young says he underwent another operation to remove “the hardware” from his right leg. He was later laid off his job in February.
Young says he “couldn’t see who hit me” nor “who kicked me,” noting that the incident at the gas station was “over in less than few minutes.”
Asked to describe his alleged attackers, Young says he recognized them when “I came to the courthouse today.”
He told the court both were male, of East Indian descent, dark haired and of medium build. The taller of the two was six feet tall, while the other was 5’8″ tall, Young alleges, adding it was the shorter man who got out of the right side of the taxi.
Paul Scoles, who witnessed the alleged attack, told the court a somewhat different version of the evening’s events.
Scoles says he was on the north side of Davie St when he heard yelling coming from the gas station. He says he saw two men, whom he alleges were passengers in a taxi that had pulled up in the gas station, arguing with another man.
He describes the two men from the taxi as East Indian “or of that descent” and in their early to mid-20s, one with short, dark hair, the other with a shaved head.
The third man was in his mid-40s, heavy-set and Caucasian, Scoles testified. He says the white male was leaning into the taxi’s right side when he was pushed back by the East Indian man who was in the right rear of the taxi.
At that point, Scoles alleges, the East Indian man got out of the cab and “confronted the older gentleman and hit him in the face.”
The man in the left rear of the taxi then got out, talked to the other East Indian man, then “went after the older gentleman,” Scoles testified.
At some point, Scoles alleges, the white man tripped and fell to the ground following which the man from the left rear of the cab “proceeded to punch and kick the older gentleman on the ground.”
When the alleged attackers began walking away from the incident, Scoles says he called 911 on his cell phone, then followed the men down a laneway towards Thurlow St until police arrived and arrested the two.
Scoles testified the men called him a “fuckin’ faggot” as he was following them.
Reg Harris, defence counsel for Cheema, challenged Scoles’ account and memory of the event, suggesting that the distance from which he made his observations and the generally busy environment at the Davie and Burrard corner could make it difficult to give an accurate account of what happened, who was involved and who did what when on the night Young was allegedly attacked.
Scoles conceded that his memory of the night’s events is “not as good as it should be.”
The trial will resume Nov 30 when Young is expected to continue his testimony.
When Young, the key witness, showed up at a fifth floor provincial courtroom for the original trial on Sep 26, 2006, he was not told the proceedings had been moved to another courtroom as a result of judicial rescheduling. In Young’s absence, Crown counsel Elliott Poll asked that the charges against Young’s alleged attackers be stayed.
The charges were subsequently reinstated following a review of the case.