Man guilty of inciting racial hatred in cross burning
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, November 5, 2010 7:14PM EDT
A Nova Scotia man who burned a cross on the lawn of an inter-racial Nova Scotia couple earlier this year has been found guilty of inciting racial hatred.
Justin Rehberg will be sentenced in December.
The 20-year-old Rehberg had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment but not guilty to the charge of inciting racial hatred stemming from the Feb. 21 incident in Poplar Grove, N.S.
He was found guilty on both counts Friday, said CTV's Todd Battis, who was at the courthouse in Windsor. N.S.
Rehberg's lawyer argued that the act of burning a cross was not enough on its own to qualify as inciting racial hatred and pointed out that the community has supported the inter-racial couple through the process.
Judge Claudine MacDonald didn't accept that argument.
"Rehberg was deemed to have carried the cross, erected it on the lawn, and set it on fire having soaked in accelerant knowing there was a family inside, a bi-racial couple and their children, and that that was enough to stand the legal test," Battis said.
Rehberg's co-accused, his brother Nathan, is scheduled to appear in court next week on the same charges.
According to the statement of facts in the case, Shayne Howe, who is black, and Michelle Lyon, who is white, saw a cross burning in their front yard just after midnight on Feb. 21.
According to the statement one of the couple's children heard someone shouting racial slurs.
It appears to be the first time a Canadian court has convicted someone on the charge of inciting racial hatred, for the act of burning a cross.