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White Rock councillor wonders ‘if court would be as lenient on me’

Lawrence’s attacker pleads guilty, receives 18 months probation
Bill Lawrence, a White Rock councillor and co-owner of the now-closed Sandpiper Pub, is disappointed a man who pleaded guilty to assaulting him last year will not go to jail. File photo

A White Rock councillor who was attacked physically and with racial slurs outside his Marine Drive pub last year said he was disappointed to hear that one of the two men charged with the crime will not spend time in jail for his role.

But Bill Lawrence said he also can’t help but wonder what kind of sentence would have been imposed had the tables been turned.

“It would have been interesting if the shoe was on the other foot… if the court would’ve been as lenient on me,” Lawrence said Wednesday.

“You don’t see many suspended sentences for people of colour these days.”

Lawrence, 56, said he learned this week that David Hugh Watson received a suspended sentence along with 18 months probation in connection with the March 20, 2016 incident.

According to court records, the sentence was imposed April 28 in Surrey Provincial Court, after Watson pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm.

“A guilty plea is good,” Lawrence told Peace Arch News. “There’s no question that he committed the offence… definitely owning up to the responsibility that he has.

“With an assault, you would think that an individual would get some jail time. In this particular case, I think the penalty did not fit the crime.”

A suspended sentence means Watson’s conviction will remain part of the public record.

Lawrence first spoke out about the assault – which occurred outside of his now-closed Sandpiper Pub – in April of last year. He told PAN at that time that he had been put in a headlock, punched in the ribs and targeted repeatedly with “the N-word.”

“This was a blatant assault,” Lawrence said Wednesday. “Turned my world upside-down for a while.”

Lawrence named the incident as a key factor in a decision he and pub co-owner Judy Baker made to close their business last September.

Trial for a second man charged in connection with the assault, Andrew Ronald Bader, is set for Aug. 23.

Lawrence said he is “looking forward” to those proceedings, and “to see if the justice system works the way that it should.”

He’s also looking forward to finally putting the ordeal to bed.

“Get that decision done, finished and put that thing behind me.”

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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