An appeal hearing is scheduled for this morning where prosecutors will seek a harsher sentence for Shawn Wade Hynes, who was convicted of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

On September 19, 2018, Hynes, 43, shot 21-year-old Nhlanhla Dlamini with a nail gun and punctured his lung while they were working at a construction site in Abercrombie in Pictou County.

In April 2021, Hynes was sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence, including a period of house arrest, followed by a year of probation and 120 hours of community service.

In the weeks leading up to the assault, Hynes, who is white, bullied Dlamini, who is Black, on the worksite and called him the n-word.

Nhlanhla Dlamini in hospital. Photo: Stacey Dlamini

“The history of anti-Black discrimination in Nova Scotia is a historic fact, which is continuing. Discrimination and intimidation of racialized and marginalized persons will occur in many locations, including workplaces and it happened to [Nhlanhla Dlamini],” said Judge Del Atwood at Hynes’ sentencing.

Dlamini’s supporters, including his mother, Stacey Dlamini, were dismayed at what they felt was a light sentence.

Black community activist Angela Bowden attended the trial and the sentencing and wrote an article for the former Nova Scotia Advocate.

“Merely acknowledging the trauma is not enough! I am so disheartened by the level of commitment of this justice system to not protecting or validating Black Lives and Black trauma,” she said. “Today we saw a justice system perform magic and turn an intentional and malicious act into an out-of-character isolated incident.”

“I cannot digest the idea that the defense argued, and the judge accepted that “it was out of character for him”. Shawn Hynes pleaded not guilty. He denied he did it in the first place, so suggesting he acted out of character makes no sense.”

Bowden wrote that the sentence “sets the wrong precedent.”

“A conditional sentence that allows Shawn Hynes to continue working and remain free in society is the biggest insult to these hateful and heinous crimes. Covid-19 has us all restricted, yet he is able to work and collect EI if he is laid off, and is free to be home and spend time with his loved ones regularly, having no visitor restrictions. That’s not denunciation, that’s regular life.”

In an interview with the Examiner Wednesday night, Bowden was also critical of the case prosecutor, Bill Gorman, during the trial.

“He made a conscious decision to not pursue race rights from the beginning despite our insisting and suggesting that he sought race experts to help him prosecute and understand his blind spots,” she said.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for today at 10am in Courtroom 502 at the Halifax Law Courts and will be streamed online here.

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Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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