A judge with glasses and a black robe behind a plexiglass screen in a courtroom
Justice Duncan Beveridge. Photo: Matthew Byard

Family and supporters of a man who was bullied and called the n-word before being shot in the lung with a nail gun will have to wait two months before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal hears arguments in the sentencing of the man convicted in the September 2018 assault.

In April 2021, Shawn Wade Hynes was given an 18-month conditional sentence, which included a period of house arrest, followed by a year’s probation, and community service. Hynes, 43, was convicted in the assault on Nhlanhla Dlamini, 21, at a construction site in Abercrombie in Pictou County where they both worked.

The Crown is appealing the sentence. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal adjourned the proceedings this morning to allow time to obtain transcripts from the trial and the judge’s decision at the sentencing. The appeal hearing is now scheduled to resume on May 26.

“I appreciate that both counsels have probably put in a fair amount of work to be ready for today and to proceed,” said Justice Duncan Beveridge at the hearing this morning, “but I think in light of the public interest issues at stake here, I think that the panel would — in these circumstances, rather unique as they are — [like] to obtain a supplementary appeal book containing the trial transcript, to better educate all the participants, and the public, as to the factual scenario in play here.”

In an interview with the Examiner this morning, the victim’s mother Stacey Dlamini, said she was disappointed in the delay. She also spoke about her disappointment in Judge Del Atwood’s initial sentence.

“[The sentence] was delivered at a time when we were all on house arrest … because of COVID restrictions, we weren’t allowed to go out and mingle ourselves,” Dlamini, said. “For us, it felt like for the perpetrator, not much really changed. He could still live at home. He could still be with his family. He could still have his job. So, what changed substantively for him?”

A photo of a young Black man in a hospital bed with a bandage over a wound
Nhlanhla Dlamini in hospital. Photo: Stacey Dlamini

Dlamini said she was present in the court the day Judge Atwood read his decision.

“In his preamble, it really sounded like [Atwood] got it,” Dlamini said. “That’s the truth. He talked about the impact of historical racism. He talked about systemic racism. He talked about the impact of this particular crime on the Black community. He talked about the fact that our family left a country with a high crime rate for life in Nova Scotia. And that it was here that this happened.”

Prosecutor Bill Gorman initially requested that Hynes serve a year to a year-and-a-half in jail. The defense argued the constitutionality of a jail sentence and cited a similar case where the perpetrator received house arrest instead of jail time.

“My understanding is that the judge wasn’t obliged to allow the other case to affect his decision, but that he was obliged to at least consider it,” Dlamini said. “So I guess when he delivered his decision, he not only considered the other case, but he was he was guided by it.”

“[Hynes] meant to hurt our son, and I just feel I just feel like an appropriate price needs to be paid.”

It’s unclear what could happen to Hynes if the Crown is successful in its appeal, but Crown prosecutor Mark Scott said Thursday Hynes will still not likely do any jail time.

“I can say that because of what — even if the Crown is successful — the ultimate result of this would be, it would not mean anything insofar as an incarcerated remedy because of the amount of time that Mr. Hynes has spent on his conditional sentence order,” Scott said.

As for Nhlanhla Dlamini, who goes by NH, his mother said he’s doing well.

“He’s tried to put this behind him,” she said. “He’s employed, he is in a stable relationship. I think I think he’s worked very hard to not let this hold him back or affect him.”

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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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