NEWS

Crown to launch appeal of sentence for attack on Asian anglers

06/07/2012 08:11 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT

The Crown is hoping to secure a stiffer sentence for a man convicted in a racially motivated attack that left a 28-year-old Toronto man paralyzed with severe brain damage.

Trevor Middleton was convicted of four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

The charges relate to an attack on Shayne Berwick and six of his friends — two of Asian descent — in Georgina Township, northeast of Newmarket, about 50 kilometres north of Toronto.

The group was fishing near Mossington Park Bridge off Lake Simcoe early in the morning on Sept. 16, 2007, when Middleton and some of his friends arrived. Middleton's group pushed two of Berwick's friends off the dock and into the lake, the court heard.

A scuffle ensued between members of the two groups, and one of Middleton's friends was badly beaten.

Berwick and his friends then got into a car and fled. But Middleton chased them down a road with his pickup truck, ramming into the car repeatedly until it crashed into a tree, court heard. Berwick was severely injured in the crash and suffered brain damage.

Despite finding that race played a role in the attack, the judge didn't use hate crime provisions of the criminal code when he handed down his sentence. That prompted members of Berwick’s family to question outside the court whether the law acts as a deterrent.

Shayne's father, Colin Berwick, says in spite of the severe injuries his son is beating the odds. "Two years ago he managed to take his first steps even after doctors said he'd never walk," the father said.

Middleton, who was 23 at the time, was sentenced to two years less a day, along with three years' probation and 240 hours of community service. He was also banned from driving for 10 years.

He appealed the sentence and is out on bail.

On Thursday the Crown will launch its appeal — asking for a stiffer sentence.

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