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Alberta man convicted in attack on gay blind man

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — An Alberta man was found guilty Monday of aggravated assault for a brutal attack on a gay and legally blind man who’d made a sexual advance on his attacker in McBride, B.C.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven said Allan Richter, 33, of Ponoka, Alta., used a degree of force “far beyond that which could reasonably or even conceivably be considered necessary in the circumstances,” when he attacked William Floris Groeneveld, 56.

During a trial, the court heard that Groeneveld made a sexual advance towards Richter on Dec. 11, 2011 when he touched his buttocks and his genitals minutes after Richter’s SUV got stuck in the snow while giving Groeneveld a ride home.

Richter punched Groeneveld three times in his face leaving him with a broken jaw, multiple lacerations and severe swelling to his head.

He was in hospital for nine days and he continues to suffer problems with his balance, his memory as well as his jaw as a result.

Groeneveld, who suffers from an inherited progressive eye disease and has been effectively blind for many years, testified he had lost his way home after leaving a pub and returned to the building where he asked Richter for a ride, which ended with Richter’s SUV going off the road.

He said Richter started “flipping out” and Groeneveld hugged him to calm him down and that’s when he made a sexual advance that ended with the assault.

The attack was believed to have occurred sometime after 2 a.m. and Groeneveld was found in a snow bank about 4 a.m. by a resident who went outside because her dogs were barking and heard someone calling for help. It was about -10 C at the time. “His temperature was well below normal, without warming he would have died,” Verhoeven said.

Police spotted Richter’s SUV about 150 metres away and Richter was found inside curled up and sleeping.

Although the evidence was circumstantial because Groeneveld cannot see, the judge concluded Richter was the one who gave Groeneveld the ride, noting the victim’s blood was found on Richter’s shoe and near the SUV.

 
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