A man facing charges of criminal negligence causing bodily harm after allegedly shooting his co-worker with a nail-gun has had his plea hearing date moved to March 11 in Pictou Provincial Court on Monday, Feb. 11.
Shawn Wade Hynes is accused of shooting Nhlanhla Dlamini in the back with an air powered nail-gun on Sept. 19. He was arrested on Sept. 27 and subsequently released under conditions to have no contact with the victim.
The incident occurred while both Hynes and Dlamini were at a worksite in Abercrombie. There were no witnesses when, according to Dlamini, Hynes pulled back the safety on the nail gun, pointed it at him and fired as Dlamini ran away. Dlamini’s injuries required emergency surgery to repair a partially collapsed lung and he was in hospital for four days.
Dlamini, who of African descent, says that the shooting came after weeks of racially charged harassment by Hynes. Hynes has not been charged with a hate crime however.
The plea hearing date was scheduled for Feb. 11, but according to Crown Prosecutor Patrick Young, more time is needed to review the file. “Both crown and defense are continuing to need more time to review the case,” said Young. “It’s not a typical file.”
Hynes, 43 was not present in court on Monday.
Instead, Hynes lawyer, Andrew O’Blenis filed papers for designation of council which authorizes a lawyer to appear in court on their client’s behalf.
“Because it was filed with the court today he (Hynes) is under no legal obligation to attend,” said O’Blenis during an interview.
At his first scheduled court date on Jan. 7 Hynes was also absent, and another lawyer was standing in for O’Blenis who at the time had not yet “firmed up his retention” of Hynes. Judge Del Atwood did not issue a bench warrant and instead reserved court’s decision to issue a warrant should Hynes fail to appear at his next hearing.
“As he has not firmed up his retention of Mr. Shawn Wade Hynes, he (O’Blenis) is requesting we adjourn the matter over to February,” said Del Atwood at the first scheduled hearing on Jan 7. Hynes’ court date was then rescheduled to Feb. 11.
“The court will reserve until that date its decision whether to issue a warrant for Mr. Hynes.”
That prompted a protest outside the courthouse on Jan. 18 where protesters pointed to past cases in which Del Atwood issued bench warrants for individuals facing less serious charges than the one Hynes is on the docket for.
Protesters say that Del Atwood's decision highlights a double standard in the Nova Scotia justice system.
“When you see that type of inconsistency and you see the types of crimes that was committed, it sends a clear message to the black community that your lives don’t matter,” said Angela Bowden during an interview in January.
“There’s a two-tiered system here, and it’s certainly not in the favour of African Nova Scotians,” said Raymond Shepperd who was also at the protest in January.
“When African Nova Scotians are said to commit crimes, they are railroaded into the prison system," said Shepperd during an interview. "However, when others do crimes against us it’s almost like their privilege kicks in, and they do not have to jump through the same hoops that we have to jump through.”
Shepperd has said that charges against Hynes should be upgraded to attempted murder and a hate crime, but so far there hasn't been any charges added.
“Unless there’s a different charge before the court then we’re only dealing with the criminal negligence causing bodily harm,” said O’Blenis.
– With files from The Chronicle Herald