|Shane Berwick with his father, Colin, and mother, Terry. (Sun files)
TORONTO - TORONTO — Trevor Middleton has lost his appeal to overturn his conviction in the infamous racist angler attack in 2007 that left Shane Berwick severely brain damaged and several of his Asian-Canadian friends injured.
But the Ontario Court of Appeal also refused to increase the former motocross racer’s jail term from two years to five.
“I knew in my heart that’s what it would be,” said Berwick’s disappointed stepmom, Terry, who had hoped for a tougher sentence. “Nothing would have satisfied us.
“He should spend as long as it takes for Shane to get back to what he was. But two years? It’s a joke.”
The 25-year-old Georgina man was convicted in 2009 on two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and four of aggravated assault after repeatedly smashing his Ford F-150 truck into the rear of a Honda carrying Berwick and his Asian-Canadian friends following a confrontation over the Toronto anglers fishing in “their” waters near Jackson’s Point.
It was dubbed the “niptipping case” after one person in Middleton’s group that night on the dock said, “We’re going niptipping,” a racist term meaning they were going to push the Asian-Canadians into the river.
The lawyers maintained the man’s statements - no one knows who exactly it was - doesn’t prove there was “racist intention” and the attack was really over city folk “fishing on their turf.”
The Toronto friends were threatened by a group of locals, two were pushed into Lake Simcoe and their fleeing car was rammed about 20 times by Middleton’s truck until it careened off the road and smashed into a tree.
Thrown from the vehicle, Berwick was initially given a 10% chance of survival. After years of therapy, the former electrician’s apprentice has regained the use of his legs but has permanent brain damage and needs 24-hour care.
Middleton was sentenced to two years less a day, along with three years’ probation and 240 hours of community service. He was also banned from driving for 10 years.
He served only five weeks of his sentence before he was freed on bail to await his appeal.
“While the sentence imposed here can certainly be viewed as one at the lower end of the scale, the trial judge was clearly attempting to impose the maximum he could without sending the appellant, as a youthful first offender, to the penitentiary,” noted the appeal court in a decision released Thursday.
“This did not constitute an error of law. It reflects the very serious conduct and consequences for the victims, while giving effect to the principles of individual deterrence, denunciation and prospects for rehabilitation.
“The sentence is not manifestly unfit.”