Jail sentence for neo-Nazi 4-year prison term

Skinhead stabbed Haitian outside bar while on probation

The Gazette/January 18, 2003
By Lynn Moore

André-Yannick Ducharme came to the aid of Evens Marseille when he was attacked by two skinheads in June. "This crime was specifically committed because the man is a Haitian," a judge ruled.

Saying hate crimes must be denounced, a judge yesterday sentenced a neo-Nazi extremist to a four-year prison term for stabbing a Haitian man because of his skin colour.

At an east-end bar in June, Daniel Laverdière and fellow skinhead Rémi Chabot taunted Evens Marseille with "Heil Hitler" salutes as he sat with friends.

When Marseille went outside the noisy bar to use the telephone, the skinheads followed and accosted him.

Laverdière stabbed Marseille in the abdomen while Chabot punched his face before the attackers ran away.

"This crime was specifically committed because the man is a Haitian," Quebec Court Judge Louise Bourdeau stated in her brief ruling.

Marseille, 26, was kept in a hospital for four days, lost six weeks of work as a welder and has been having psychological problems since the assault, the court was told.

Yesterday, Marseille said he was satisfied with the sentence Laverdière received.

"It won't change my situation ... but if everybody sees (that hate crimes will be punished as such), it might reduce violence," he said.

Marseille thanked Bourdeau, the prosecutors and police officers involved in the case. He also praised former bar bouncer André-Yannick Ducharme for coming to his aid after he was stabbed.

Laverdière was out on probation for mischief when he stabbed Marseille.

The fact he pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated assault normally would be a mitigating factor in determining the severity of the sentence but, citing hate crime provisions in the Criminal Code, Bourdeau said the "gratuitous and unacceptable" attack merited a stiff prison term.

Laverdière has been in custody for seven months. Pre-sentence custody is calculated as double time so Laverdière's formal term works out to 34 months in prison where, the judge said, he should receive appropriate psychiatric help. He also cannot possess a weapon for 10 years.

During the sentencing hearing, Montreal police Constable Thierry Peano was granted expert witness status and testified about the significance of the tattoos Laverdière and Chabot wore. He concluded Laverdière was a hard-core neo-Nazi extremist while Chabot's tattoos indicated he was more of a sympathizer.

Fo Niemi, director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, who has been instrumental in raising judicial awareness of hate crimes and in the education of Montreal-area police officers in the intricacies of skinhead culture, applauded Bourdeau's ruling.

"It's a very dangerous situation when one is a victim of hate crime and no one speaks out against it," he said.

Chabot was given a conditional sentence of a year to be served at home. During that time and for two years of probation afterward, he can't go near other skinheads.

A gaggle of skinhead supporters showed up at the courthouse yesterday but didn't enter the courtroom for the sentencing.

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