Trial to begin for man accused of attack, car chase

Shane Berwick was critically injured in an accident that left him with brain damage and in a...

Shane Berwick was critically injured in an accident that left him with brain damage and in a wheelchair. (Veronica Henri/Sun Media)

MICHELE MANDEL

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

After more than two long years, Shayne Berwick's family is finally hoping to see justice done.

Tomorrow morning, Terry and Colin Berwick will be in Newmarket court for the start of the trial of Trevor Middleton, the Sutton-area man accused in an attack on their son and his Asian-Canadian friends fishing off Mossington Bridge pier near Jackson's Point in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2007.

Middleton faces four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and two counts of unlawful act causing bodily harm.

It was a case that captured headlines and is being followed closely by Asian-Canadian rights groups.

"We'll be there every day," vows Shayne's dad.

But his 26-year-old son won't be at the jury selection tomorrow. He won't be testifying at the trial.

He still doesn't remember anything about the incident.

During an alleged car chase, Shayne was ejected from the back seat of his friend's Honda Civic after it hit a tree. He was left with such severe head trauma that doctors at Sunnybrook hospital gave him just a 10% chance of survival.

It's been a long, difficult way back.

Shayne spent four months in a coma at Sunnybrook and more than a year in intensive rehabilitation at Bridgepoint Health. He's had to relearn everything -- from his colours to his numbers. He has no long-term memory and no short term, either. He now recognizes his family but can't tell you what he did just a few minutes before.

"He lives for the moment," explains his dad.

Once an apprentice electrician in his own apartment, Shayne is now back living with his devoted parents in a newly wheelchair-accessible home they had to purchase for him last June. His stepmom recently decided to give up her 20-year career at a daycare to stay home and care for him around the clock. "Shayne comes first," she says, looking at him with love as the family sits around the kitchen table. "He's my main priority and I know I made the right decision."

By using ski poles or a walker, Shayne is slowly learning how to walk again. But he must still spend most of his time in his wheelchair and is busy five days a week with various therapy appointments aimed at one day bringing him back to the man he used to be.

"We always hold out hope," his dad says fiercely. "We can't quit now. He's got to get better. That's our push. And he is improving a lot."

It's what they live for, because looking back is just too painful.

His stepbrother, Mike Miceli, was the one who woke to the devastating phone call at 4 a.m. that morning two years ago from a friend telling him Shayne had been airlifted to the hospital and it didn't look good. He knew his brother had gone fishing because he'd asked him a few days before about a good spot, but he never imagined how the outing would end.

"I think it's a good thing that he can't remember what happened at the beginning because he was a mess," recalls Miceli, 24. "It makes me angry. They just went up there to have a good time; nobody deserves to have something like this happen to them. He's never hurt anybody in his life. To have this happen to him, it's terrible.

"He had to fight for his life, he had to fight to get out of his coma, he had to fight to learn how to eat, he had to fight to learn how to take his first step. It's 24 hours, seven days a week for these guys," he says, looking at his parents. "This is the outcome of that night."

He and his brother were always close, going out together, playing hockey, joking about girls. Their relationship has changed but the kidding and the love is obviously still there, as they sit beside each other, sharing smiles, exchanging high fives.

"The way you have to look at it is that he's still alive and he's doing really well right now so we're looking ahead," Miceli says. "It's still devastating, but we can't dwell on what happened."

He turns to his brother. "As soon as he starts walking, he knows I'll be taking him to a hockey game."

So this trial won't change any of that, but his family is anxious about it just the same.

"I just want to get this started," Colin explains. "We've waited a long time for this. We know there'll be stuff that comes out that will be hard to handle. But if we can deal with what we've handled since the beginning of this, we can handle anything, so bring it on."

His wife is looking forward to putting the court case behind them.

"I'm really nervous -- I haven't slept properly in a couple of weeks. It's just the unknown," Terry admits.

She gazes at Shayne, who is so blissfully unaware of that horrific night two years ago and the legal proceedings that now lie ahead.

"The thing that keeps me going is the positive progress I'm seeing in Shayne. He's come so far from two years ago."

And still has so far to go.


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