Crown counsel Dasein Nearing made history today in BC Supreme Court.
Not only did she seek a hate crime designation in the Jordan Smith gaybashing, but she actually cited a pile of case law to back up her position.
"This event was extremely serious and had a devastating effect on the victim and his partner and a chilling effect on the gay and lesbian community of Vancouver," Nearing told the court at Michael Kandola's sentencing hearing on April 26.
I could have kissed her. Nearing becomes the third Crown counsel in Vancouver history to seek a hate crime designation in a gaybashing case.
Smith and his boyfriend, Charles McKay, were walking in hand in hand on Davie St in September 2008 when a group of five Indo-Canadian men yelled "Fucking faggots" and "What the fuck is this?"
Smith dropped McKay's hand and turned to confront the men, the court heard today. "What do you mean, 'What the fuck is this?'" he asked.
The men surrounded him. Kandola came around the side of the group, pulling back his arm and clenching his first, a video of the incident, played in court, shows. Then he sucker-punched Smith, breaking his jaw and knocking him to the ground unconscious.
Kandola then stood over Smith's prone body and continued to yell "Fucking faggot," the court heard.
"You think this case has had a chilling effect on the gay community?" I asked Nearing outside the courtroom.
"I think it does, doesn't it?" she replied.
"I think the language was very indicative that they were targeted because they were two men holding hands," she said.
Kandola, who pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in March, didn't turn his aggression on just anyone, Nearing noted. "The issue is that he was aggressive towards a specific group on this occasion."
She's got my vote for Crown counsel of the year.
And the crux of Kandola's defence?
Yes, he used homophobic terms, his lawyer told the court, but it wasn't a gaybashing. He didn't hit Smith because he hates gay people.
He hit Smith because Smith had the "audacity" to confront him about the homophobic slurs he'd just yelled, Danny Markowitz argued.
The judge will release his sentencing decision on Friday at 2pm.
Read more about today's sentencing hearing