The lawyers defending five B.C. skinheads start their arguments Wednesday at a sentencing hearing for the beating death of a 65-year-old Sikh caretaker.
The killing left Vancouver's ethnic communities reeling -- and angry. B.C. Crown counsel Ron Caryer argues the crime, for which the five pleaded guilty to manslaughter, is unprecedented in Canada. "I don't think there is a case like this in Canada where you can actually find a group of people who have these thoughts and beliefs, who go out and act on these beliefs and in fact kill somebody of a different ethnic background," said Caryer.
Caryer has asked the court to apply a relatively new section of the Criminal Code that allows the system to get tough on hate crimes -- by imposing life sentences.
The three-year-old section has never been used for such a serious offence, and it is expected defence lawyers will argue life is far too harsh a punishment for manslaughter.
Part of the Crown's evidence included a letter one of the skinheads wrote from a B.C. prison to the U.S. man involved in a disturbing murder.
Nathan LeBlanc wrote encouraging words to the Texas man who dragged a black man to his death behind a truck.
LeBlanc's letter never made it to death row. But the Crown says it clearly shows the author's lack of remorse over killing non-whites.
LeBlanc wrote: "Dear John ... you should have been given a medal ... (the victim) should have been left by the side of the road as an example to those who would cause the destruction of our glorious white nation."
The Crown also produced evidence that the five skinheads had what they called 'Plan B' -- the mass murder of Sikh school children.
Nirmal Singh Gill was stomped to death in the parking lot of the Sikh temple in Surrey in January 1998.