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Crown opts against presenting race as aggravating factor in Pictou County nail gun shooting case

Shawn Wade Hynes exiting Pictou Provincial Court on the final day of trial, Sept. 19, 2019.
Shawn Wade Hynes exiting Pictou Provincial Court on the final day of trial, Sept. 19, 2019. - Brendan Ahern
PICTOU, N.S. —

Race was not brought up as an aggravating factor in the charges faced by Shawn Wade Hynes during the final day of the trial on Sept. 19.

Given the opportunity to present any aggravating factors as evidence, Crown prosecutor Bill Gorman said that, although racial factors had been hinted at, there was not strong enough evidence to present it in court and prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Speaking of the charges faced by Hynes, Gorman told the court, “as it may relate to race, it doesn’t rise to that level. There’s been some inference, but I submit it doesn’t rise to that level.”

The victim, Nhlanhla Dlamini, has previously said that the nail gun shooting came at the end of three weeks of racially-charged harassment directed at him by Hynes.

Dlamini, who is of African descent, said that he had been called a nickname by Hynes that was close to the "N word." He also had many pranks pulled on him, including having his coat stapled to a project they were working on.

In an interview following the Sept. 17 court date, Dlamini’s mother, Stacey Dlamini said that the allegations of racism on the workplace were addressed at length by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in its investigation into Dlamini’s former employer, P.Q. Properties.

“That was well established in the human rights commission,” said Stacey Dlamini. “They went deep.”

No charges were laid against P.Q. Properties and the matter between the construction company and Dlamini was mutually resolved on March 11.

After court adjourned on Sept. 19 supporters of Dlamini told The News that the province has "dropped the ball."

“I think it’s really disappointing that they didn’t address the elephant in the room which was racism,” said Angie Bowden. “At one point, it looked like they were going to head in that direction, but then they stopped.”

“Nova Scotia really dropped the ball on this, because it’s pretty clear in everyone’s mind, including the victim that he was the victim of race based bullying,” she said. “They missed an opportunity to send a message to Nova Scotia that this is serious and we’re going to be addressing this.”

The charges stem from an incident that occurred at a worksite in Abercrombie on Sept. 19, 2018 in which Dlamini alleges he was deliberately shot by Hynes with an air-powered nail gun.

On the final day of trial on Sept. 19, 2019, Hynes denied pointing the nail gun at Dlamini. Stating instead that the incident resulted from a ricochet.

Hynes also testified that the wood material he was working with at the time of the incident was cold and wet, and that the gun slipped as he was pressing it to the wood.

Under cross examination, Hynes testified that this was the only time during the day of the incident that a ricochet occurred.

Judge Atwood will be giving his verdict on Sept. 26.

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