A Summerland man was found guilty of attacking a store manager who asked him to put on a mask during the height of COVID-19 safety measures.
On May 30, Kevin Thomas Hay, born in 1978, was deemed guilty of two counts of assault against the owner of a Summerland hardware store and an employee of the business on March 1, 2021.
At the time, the store’s owner, who also worked as the manager, had asked Hay to either put on a mask or to wait outside the store.
The store owner had served other customers who didn’t want to wear masks outside, bringing them the items they wanted from inside, per the province’s health measures.
The judge noted in her reasons that from the video, the interaction between the two was brief before Hay violently grabbed the store owner, and shoved him with force against a display shelf, the two then scrambling and falling to the ground and out of frame.
Another employee had attempted to break it up. After Hay got to his feet, he shoved that female employee into a shelving unit before leaving.
“He can be seen in the video to stand up, face [the employee], and throw her backwards into the display shelving,” said the judge. “In the video, it does not appear there was any need whatsoever to touch her when exiting the store.”
Hay had admitted to being aware of the rules and regulations the province had implemented, and that he was exempt because he wears glasses and had been a smoker for 15 years which made breathing while wearing a mask difficult.
He claimed he had an exemption, and in evidence, he provided the card he had received from a friend, which refers to a website called maskexemption.ca, which currently sends visitors to Rebel News. He otherwise had no medical exemption from an actual doctor.
Hay had claimed that he had been in the store 15 to 20 times before the March 1 interaction with the store owner, however, testimony from the store owner and employees said that the day of the incident was the first time any of them had seen Hay in the business.
“Further, when [the owner] advised him that he would need to leave, [Hay] responded by accusing [the manager] of discriminating against him, which is total nonsense,” said the judge.
“He was not discriminating against Mr. Hay if he was asked to leave because he was not wearing a mask. He was merely enforcing a public health order as required to do so by law.”
Hay had also claimed he was threatened quite graphically by the store owner and had acted in self-defence, however, the judge noted the initial police report had Hay state that the store owner had been polite during their interactions, unlike what Hay claimed during the trial.
The judge said that the video had shown Hay to unquestionably be the aggressor in the incident.
Sentencing for the two assault charges will be done at a later date yet to be determined.
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