A man who took part in a group beating a judge described as "cowardly" was sentenced to probation on Monday morning.
Robert Rae, 20, pleaded guilty to a group assault Crown attorney Thomas Boult said happened on June 9, 2020.
At approximately 6:45 p.m. that day, the victim was with a friend in a vehicle behind Brandon’s Staples, Boult told the court.
Rae and four other people arrived and one of the co-accused opened the passenger door and punched the victim in the face. He was then pulled out, Boult said, and surrounded by the attackers.
"He was struck a number of times by Mr. Rae," the Crown told the court.
Rae shoved the victim before punching him in the face and body, Boult said.
The victim was able to eventually escape and the accused all left the area. He arrived at Brandon police headquarters with a swollen right eye and a small cut under his eye, Boult said, but didn’t need medical attention.
Boult, who called the incident a "group attack," said he tried to contact the victim for a victim impact statement before court but never received an answer.
One of Rae’s co-accused previously pleaded guilty to assault in the same incident and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation.
The Crown recommended a sentence of a conditional discharge by way of probation so Rae can show the court he can follow conditions for a year.
Defence lawyer Andrew Synyshyn said Rae was co-operative with police after he was arrested and it was his first time involved in the criminal justice system.
"(The incident) involves, basically, some vigilante-type style retribution here, which in discussing that with Mr. Rae, he now realizes that’s not appropriate," he said.
Rae has also attended programming at the John Howard Society and knows not to take matters into his own hands.
Synyshyn jointly recommended the sentence with Boult.
Speaking to the court, Rae said he realizes what he did was "stupid" and has learned from it. He also apologized to the victim for his role in the attack.
Judge Patrick Sullivan, who also sentenced Rae’s co-accused, said the incident was "cowardly."
"I think the idea here was … vigilantism, and I think the idea of those participating was they were defending the honour of some third party, that this was some chivalrous act," Sullivan said.
"In my view, it was totally lacking in integrity. A five-on-one assault is not brave, it is not honourable and it is not acceptable."
Sullivan said Rae’s guilty plea demonstrates remorse for the incident and he said it’s meaningful he wants to apologize. Sullivan said he was also happy to hear Rae has reflected on the incident.
Sullivan sentenced Rae to a one-year conditional discharge through one-year of unsupervised probation. He also added a condition for Rae to write the victim an apology letter within the next 30 days.
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