TORONTO – Durham Regional Police have laid criminal charges against a youth in connection with anti-Semitic vandalism found at a trashed rental property in the town of Bowmanville, east of Toronto.
The young offender, who cannot be identified, has been charged under section 441 of the Criminal Code of causing damage to a rental property, an indictable offence that carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
However, police are concerned that unless witnesses step forward, prosecution of the case will be difficult. “We have issues with the case,” said Const. Kevin Stuart of Durham Regional Police. “I have no doubt we have the right person. The trouble is finding witnesses.”
Stuart said the property, located in downtown Bowmanville, had been rented by a tenant for 10 years, but the tenant had turned the home into a virtual “flop-house” with an open door allowing all kinds of people to come and go.
“The house has been pretty much open to anyone,” he said. The problem is “proving who actually did the damage. There are people out there who know.”
Alan Schwarz, whose family owns the property, is disappointed at how the case is developing, particularly with the charges, which he said don’t reflect the seriousness of the offence.
“It was a horrendous event. It caused huge distress to my parents,” he said.
“The whole house was annihilated. No one can live in the house. It can’t be salvaged,” he said, adding that it has been boarded up since the crime was discovered in September.
Schwarz said he’s also disappointed police aren’t treating it as a hate crime.
Swastikas were painted on the front door and on the inside, along with the slogans “F–k Jews,” “Kike,” “white power,” and “SS.”
“My mom is still extremely upset about it,” he said.
“From day one, they refused to acknowledge it was a hate crime. But let’s face it. Swastikas, ‘F–k the Jews,’ ‘SS,’ ‘white power’ are not messages of love.”
Stuart said he interviewed the suspect and “he told me stuff that might have racial views.” But, he added, there’s no evidence he’s connected to any white supremacist groups.
Assistant Crown Attorney Michael Hill said the racist aspect of the crime could come into play if there is a conviction. At that point, when making submissions on sentencing, the Crown can argue that anti-Semitic graffiti is “an aggravating circumstance.’
“The ugly, hateful things on the wall are something that could form part of the submission on sentencing” and warrant a stiffer sentence, he said.