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News brief: Shawn Wade Hynes sentenced to 12 months house arrest for nail gun attack on Black co-worker

Nhlanhla Dlamini addresses a rally by supporters in Halifax. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Shawn Wade Hynes, the white Pictou County resident who,after months of racist bullying shot young Black co-worker Nhlanhla Dlamini with a high velocity nail gun at a worksite in Pictou County, was sentenced today to an 18 months conditional sentence, including 12 months of house arrest. Hynes will be allowed to go to work during that time.

In September 2019 Hynes was found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon.  

During the preceding three day trial in September 2019 Hynes maintained the nail that punctured Dlamini’s lung was fired accidentally and ricocheted off a wall. Dlamini told the court Hynes aimed the nail gun at him, causing him to run away. Nhlanhla spent 4 days in hospital with a punctured lung and was unable to work for a month. He could have died.

Judge Atwood said that incarceration between 12 and 18 months, as sought by the prosecution, would be too severe, as the risk that Hynes would re-offend was deemed to be low. Meanwhile, judge Atwood found  that probation, as suggested by Hynes’ lawyer, would not sufficiently reflect the severity of the crimes and Hines’ moral responsibility.  

Judge Atwood delivered his sentencing decision earlier this morning. The decision was livestreamed on the Courts of Nova Scotia website because of the wide interest in the matter. 

Interest in the case from within Nova Scotia’s Black community was high because of the racist nature of the unprovoked attack.

Many argued that Hynes’ conduct should have been prosecuted as a hate crime, and complained about the long wait for a verdict in the case. The actual assault occurred on September 18, 2018, some two and a half years ago. Judge Atwood blamed the delays on the pandemic.

“I feel a deep sadness. When will justice be served in Nova Scotia,” asked long-time anti-racism activist Lynn Jones when asked to respond to the sentence. “What about poor Nhlanhla, who still must wrestle with the lasting damage that was done to him? We are talking here about attempted murder. How much more of this can we take? Who will stand up for the next victim of racism, the next time this happens?”

Jones praised both Angela Bowden and Raymond Sheppard for their tireless efforts to publicize the case and support the Nhlanhla family.

In his summary of the case judge Atwood highlighted the power imbalance between Hynes and Nhlanhla Dlamini.

Nhlanhla’s victim impact statement described the shattering effect Hynes’ actions have had on his sense of safety and security that he had felt living in Nova Scotia. This loss is even more profound as he had moved to Canada from South Africa where violence is common, the judge said.

Community impact statements by Raymond Sheppard and Angela Bowden, who have both written about the case in the Nova Scotia Advocate, spoke of the history of silencing and racism experienced by the African Nova Scotian community. Institutions of power in this province have a history of intimidating and terrorizing African Nova Scotians and other racialized and marginalized communities. 

These injustices have gone on for generations and are continuing. Nhlanhla’s victimization has reminded the African the African Nova Scotian community of this painful past and present and has released the memory floodgates of intergenerational traumas that are both communal and personal, judge Atwood said.

The Nova Scotia Advocate has written extensively on the case, you can access our archive here.

See also: Angela Bowden: On slavery, hate crimes, and the case of Nhlanhla Dlamini

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  1. Thank you Robert for keeping these injustices in the public eye. Also, for all of your great work on making Nova Scotia a more equitable place for all.

  2. So sad that we still.live in a racist society of justice vs. Just us.

    Good old Pictou County hopefully one day will be held accountable for the shameful acts that they have gotten away with for centuries.

    Bkack Lives Matter

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