Skip to main content

Shayne Berwick's life is a series of fleeting moments, which come and go and leave little behind.

A warm hello. A game of air hockey. Target practice with toy darts fired from a Nerf crossbow, training his hand-eye co-ordination.

Simple things that most other 26-year-olds would grasp easily. But for Mr. Berwick, they're the result of a gruelling two-year journey along what will be a long road to recovery.

Story continues below advertisement

Severe memory loss is among the injuries he suffered in a Jacksons Point crash two years ago. The collision stemmed from one of a number of attacks on Asian-Canadian fishermen in Ontario.

Yesterday, a Newmarket jury gave Mr. Berwick's family a long-awaited verdict, convicting the driver who ran his car off the road of six criminal charges.

"There's quite a few things actually racing through my mind. I had no doubt the jury was going to come back with a guilty verdict," Mr. Berwick's father, Colin Berwick, said last night. "I'm relieved to get it over with in that respect, but it's hard to explain - there's two lives ruined here over one stupid act. Two young lives. And that makes me cringe."

On Sept. 17, 2007, Shayne and three friends were fishing at Lake Simcoe when they were attacked by a group of people who pushed two of Mr. Berwick's friends in the water.

The case was one of a string of bizarre attacks that year on Asian-Canadian anglers in Ontario, although Mr. Berwick and one of the two men pushed into the water are white. The attacks are known by locals as "nipper tipping," a term derived from an anti-Japanese slur and used crudely to refer to attacks on a wide array of non-white anglers.

After the push, a fight broke out in which one of the attackers was injured. Mr. Berwick and three friends then got in their car and left. Minutes later, the mixed race group's car collided with a truck, whose driver was among the men with whom they had tussled.

Mr. Berwick, an apprentice electrician, took the worst of the crash and fell into a coma. He still receives treatment five days a week. His stepmother quit her job to care for him.

Story continues below advertisement

The young man communicates with family, but has no short- or long-term memory. He is trying to learn, once again, to walk.

"He lives for the moment," the elder Mr. Berwick, who works for a local construction company, said quietly. "We're just trying to get him to the point where he can remember things."

Toronto's Asian community, which has paid close attention to the attacks, celebrated the verdict yesterday.

The driver of the other vehicle, Trevor Middleton, 23, was found guilty of two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and four of aggravated assault. Mr. Middleton had argued he felt the group in the car had severely injured his friend in the fight, and that he was chasing them to force them to a stop.A sentencing hearing will be set on Jan. 4, and he remains free on bail.

Mr. Berwick's friends, meanwhile, haven't been back fishing since, his father said.

"None of them have. They can't bear to do a lot of things, emotionally, ever since what happened to Shayne."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies