Merritt man avoids jail after pulling axe on First Nations family in racist road rage attack

No jail for racist road rage

A Merritt man has avoided jail after pulling an axe on a First Nations family in a racist road-rage attack.

But a judge had harsh words for 23-year-old Jarod Donald Charlton, who pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Monday to one count of assault for his part in the bizarre and violent incident.

Court heard Charlton and his girlfriend, Hannah Mae Weiler, were driving in Merritt on Valentine’s Day last year when they were cut off by an SUV.

Charlton and Weiler, 21, tailgated the SUV then jumped out of their vehicle once it stopped. Charlton was holding an axe and tapped the weapon on the SUV.

Court heard the driver of the SUV, a First Nations man who was taking his wife and two children to dinner at a nearby restaurant, got out and attempted to calm Charlton down. The two men became involved in an altercation.

“Mr. Charlton was the aggressor and landed at least one blow as the two parties wrestled with each other,” Crown prosecutor Neil Morrison said.

While the two men fought, two passersby joined the melee and began to kick and hit the driver of the SUV. They later fled and were never charged.

Court heard Charlton called the SUV’s driver a “stupid Indian” and a “wagon burner” before Weiler drove her car into his SUV and then twice into him, knocking him down.

Charlton and Weiler were arrested and charged, then released on bail five days later. Court heard the victim, who made a $100,000 salary at a nearby mine, has not worked since the incident.

Weiler pleaded guilty last year and was fined $750 and placed on a 12-month probation term. She was also handed a one-year driving ban.

Neither Charlton or Weiler had any previous criminal record.

Defence lawyer John Hogg said Charlton has a history of rage “flare ups” and has sought anger management counselling since the incident.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Ray Phillips, who is First Nations, stressed to Charlton the seriousness of the offence.

“The concern is the violence directed at the fellow with his young children, and the racism that followed. It’s very troubling to see those two things together — anger and racism,” Phillips said.

“I’m Indigenous, and here I am. I’ve faced a lot of racism over the years. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. Ive been called these names. It’s very hurtful.”

Phillips sentenced Charlton to eight days time served — time-and-a-half for his five days in jail — and 12 months of probation, with orders requiring he apologize to the victim and perform 50 hours of community service for the Lower Nicola Indian Band.

“One thing I’ve learned over the years is racism is learned,” Phillips said.

“We’re not born racist, we become racist. So you’re going to have to find a way to address that going forward. You’re a young man.”

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