TORONTO - Charles Hogan is the forgotten victim.
He was one of two passengers ejected from a car as Trevor Middleton used his pickup truck to run a group of Asian-Canadian anglers and their friends off a dark country road more than five years ago. Shayne Berwick was propelled through the windshield and left severely brain damaged. His pal was more fortunate. Hogan went through the rear window and landed in the chilly waters of Lake Simcoe.
“They say I flew 40 feet into the lake,” recalls Hogan, 27, who suffered injuries to his head, neck and spine, as well as hypothermia. “I was out cold. I remember my friend pounding on my chest. He said I was in the water, floating away.
“When he woke me up, I didn’t know where I was. All I kept saying was, ‘Where’s Shayne, where’s Shayne?’”
Berwick, now 28, has been the face of this senseless tragedy. The former apprentice electrician now has the mental capacity of a three-year-old and requires 24-hour care. But he’s not the only one who bears the scars from that September night.
In many ways, Hogan wishes that he was the one left with no memory. Instead, he remembers everything leading up to the racist attack and, more painfully, he recalls the healthy, vibrant person he used to be. “My life is so messed up. I can’t work, I can’t do the things I love to do anymore. I have no life,” he says.
And the man responsible? Middleton, a former motocross racer, was convicted in 2009 on two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and four counts of aggravated assault and received a jail term of just two years less a day. While the Crown argued it was “manifestly unfit,” the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to increase his sentence.
The Georgina man got off easy — but not easy enough, it seems. Still not satisfied, he wants to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada. A decision as to whether he’ll be given leave to argue his case is expected Thursday.
Middleton may get another chance at putting this all behind him. If only his victims were as lucky.
Hogan remains haunted by his role that night. It was his idea to head to the blue bridge at Mossington Park. “We were bored of playing poker,” he recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s go fishing, I know of a good place.’ To this day, I feel like it’s my fault.”
They were soon confronted by three truckloads of local hoodlums who demanded to see their fishing licences. Someone in the group had said, “We’re going nip-tipping” — referring to frequent attacks on Asian-Canadian anglers. Both Hogan and his friend Ruo Hang Liu, 24, were then pushed into the water.
A fight ensued and one of the locals was injured. The Toronto friends tried to take off — one car got away but the Honda Civic, with Liu driving and Berwick and Hogan in the back seat, was slammed 20 times before it careened off the road. “He says it’s not his fault, he was just trying to make a citizen’s arrest,” scoffs Hogan. “Well, if you were, you would have stayed there and waited for police.”
Instead, Middleton drove away and left Hogan in the water and Berwick broken and in a coma.
Now Hogan can’t believe the man who ruined two lives has the nerve to appeal his conviction. “The justice system is such a joke,” he complains bitterly. “It’s not fair. He gets to walk soon just because he didn’t have a criminal record? Because he did some community service hours? Is he going to do some community service for Shayne?”
Left with chronic back pain that cost him his longtime job with the City of Toronto, Hogan now subsists on painkillers and anger that he can’t play any of the sports he used to love. He’s gained 100 pounds, has endless money woes and is crippled by depression. Because of one man’s racist stupidity, he has lost so much — including his close friend.
“I can’t visit Shayne,” Hogan admits, choking back his tears. “It hurts too much.”
The forgotten 'nip-tipping' victim shocked at appeal attempt | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun
Two years less a day. And he has the nerve to appeal it. Vain, arrogant little racist dirtbag.