by Keith Fraser/Special to the Langley Advance
The assault conviction of a man who spat at a bus driver after being ordered off the bus for refusing to pay his fare has been upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court.
On Nov. 23, 2012, Braydon Dylan Sydney Antone was among a group of young men who boarded a Coast Mountain bus at 272nd Street and Fraser Highway.
The men refused to pay the fare and the driver, Jason Davie, asked them to leave. Antone said something obscene and as he got off the bus, he spat on the driver, court heard.
Davie left the bus to follow Antone but was unable to reach him. A police officer testified that Antone was among a group of individuals stopped near a local high school shortly after the report of the assault. While the officer was talking to them, Antone fled the scene. He was later arrested and charged.
The main issue at the provincial court trial was whether Antone was the one who spat on the driver. A key piece of evidence was footage captured on a digital video camera attached inside the bus and played in court for the judge.
Davie identified Antone as his assailant but the accused denied that he had spat on the driver, testifying that he was in Squamish at the time with his father. The father, Owen Hubbard, provided an alibi for his son.
The trial judge was not satisfied that the witnesses at trial had sufficient opportunity to observe the assailant but said that the video left him in no doubt that Antone was the attacker and found him guilty as charged.
On appeal, Antone’s lawyer argued that the trial judge had made a number of errors in regard to the video evidence and the alibi evidence.
But in his reasons for judgment, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowden concluded that there had been no such errors.
Bowden said the fact that the video was recorded by a camera affixed to the interior of the bus and the absence of any apparent editing or distortions in the video together with the driver’s evidence that the video accurately depicted the events provided a sufficient basis for the video to be accepted as evidence.
“Having viewed the video evidence during the appeal, I consider that the clarity and quality of the video is excellent. I can also say that there was no apparent editing or distortions in the video played before me. The person who the trial judge determined was Mr. Antone was clearly depicted for a sufficient period of time for an identification to be made by the trial judge.”
In November, Antone received a three-month conditional sentence and 12 months probation. His probation conditions include that he is to have no contact with Davie and do 40 hours of community service.
Nathan Woods, president of Unifor local 111 which represents the province’s 3,500 Coast Mountain bus drivers, said that spitting at drivers is one of the most egregious forms of assault.
“It’s something that can have lifelong lasting effects as a result of transmittable diseases. So not only is it offensive on a personal level, it’s also offensive that you could run the risk of being tested for several months.”
Spitting is also one of the most common and easiest forms of assault because you don’t have to put yourself in jeopardy, said Woods.
“To hit a transit operator, you can spit from, if you’re good, five feet away and run. And that’s what these cowards do.”
Regarding the sentence imposed on Antone, Woods said he is hopeful that a new law passed earlier this year will result in stiffer penalties being imposed in the future on people who assault drivers.
– Keith Fraser is a Province reporter.
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