An intoxicated man who refused to wear a face mask when he entered Centre Square Mall in April 2021, was kicked to the ground by a security guard who “booted him” in his testicles and head, a Yellowknife court recently heard.
The “particularly predatory” attack was committed by Naveen Singh, a 24-year-old guard employed by City Guard Patrol & Security Services. He was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm after trial in NWT Territorial Court last month.
“By any standard … the boot to the head when the man was on the ground exceeds all boundaries of acceptable human behaviour,” Judge Donovan Molloy said at a sentencing hearing earlier this month. “It was an egregious abuse of authority in committing a serious act of violence on an intoxicated, Indigenous male who happened to wander into the mall where Mr Singh was working.”
After the victim entered the mall on April 29, his exchange with Singh was captured on CCTV. The encounter turned violent when the victim walked away from the guard and Singh ran towards him, knocking him to the ground with a kick to his lower back or buttocks.
While the victim was on the ground, Singh “basically circled him repeatedly, looking for attempts to kick him,” Molloy said.
“Mr Singh was successful, from my point of view, in either kicking [the victim] in the testicles or near enough that it caused him to, what I refer to as turtling, in a semi-fetal position,” Molloy said, adding the victim was not moving and not presenting any threat to the guard.
“As a sort of final parting shot, and, unfortunately for Mr Singh the most egregious of all the strikes that he made, [was when he] actually stopped, went back, and in my view, booted him in the head.”
Crown prosecutor Trevor Johnson argued Singh should be sentenced to imprisonment around four months for the attack.
Defence lawyer Jay Bran asked the judge to impose a conditional discharge in the range of 12 to 16 months, or house arrest between 30 to 60 days. He said a jail sentence might impede Singh’s move to become a Canadian citizen.
Bran also noted his client had spent 17 days in an isolation cell at the North Slave Correctional Complex since his conviction. The jail has implemented severe restrictions in order to control Covid-19.
Singh could not make long-distance calls to his family in India from jail, Bran said, and he was only provided bread and steamed vegetables to eat, as his religion requires a meatless diet.
Judge Molloy concluded, “that’s a pretty sharp shock to a 24-year-old man who has never been in jail before.”
In determining the sentence for the attack, Molloy said he took several mitigating circumstances into consideration, including that Singh was not properly trained as a security guard.
After completing a multiple-choice test, Johnson said Singh entered into a “extremely difficult and trying job” at the mall.
“Maybe if this man had had some proper training about the appropriate use of force, he might not have gotten himself into the circumstances that he got himself into,” Molloy said, adding the incident should send a message to other security guards in Yellowknife about the need for training in self-defence and use of reasonable force.
While the victim of the attack did not submit a victim impact statement, he told the Crown he did not wish to see Singh go to jail.
Molloy sentenced Singh to 30 days of house arrest, in addition to the time he had already served.
Singh is also required to take “counselling, programming or other related activities” as recommended by a probation supervisor.
Molloy said while the attack was “a serious lapse in judgment by Mr Singh,” he does not believe the “mistake” should prevent Singh from becoming a permanent resident or citizen of Canada.
“What I say is not binding on anybody with immigration, but I certainly would hope that they would, in considering all the circumstances, consider my comments today.”
Correction: January 27, 2022 – 10 MT. This article initially stated that Naveen Singh was convicted of aggravated assault. In fact, Singh was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm.