British Columbia

B.C. man convicted of online hate crime back in court

Convicted of "wilfully promoting hatred against Jewish people" over website posts, Arthur Topham is back in court for allegedly breaching the terms of his probation.

Arthur Topham allegedly breached probation order

A jury in Quesnel convicted Topham of communicating statements on his website in 2011 and 2012 that willfully promoted hatred against Jewish people. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

A  B.C. man convicted of an anti-Semitic hate crime is back in court. 

Arthur Topham was convicted in 2015 of one count of  communicating online statements that wilfully promoted hatred against Jewish people.

In 2017,  a B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced him to a six-month conditional sentence, two years probation, a curfew and a ban on posting online.

This week, the B.C. Prosecution Service said Topham is back before the courts for allegedly breaching the terms of his probation order. 

Online posts demonized Jews

Topham, a retired teacher, was charged with hate crimes while producing an online newspaper from his rural home near Quesnel.

The website featured frequent posts that touted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and demonized Jewish people, according to evidence at his trial.

Topham's lawyer argued the posts were political satire, did not incite violence and included materials that could easily be ordered on Amazon.

First B.C. hate crime trial in a decade

Topham, who was living along a remote road 700 kilometres north of Vancouver attracted high profile supporters.

Self proclaimed "white nationalist"  Paul Fromm  helped fund Topham's defence and travelled to Quesnel for the trial. Monika Schaefer, who served jail time in Germany for Holocaust denial, also attended court.

As well, Topham had the support from the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, which champions free speech.

When Topham's case went to trial, it was the first hate crime prosecution in B.C. in almost a decade.

In 2008, Keith Francis William [Bill] Noble of Fort St. John was sentenced to jail time for promoting hatred against identifiable groups on the internet. 

Topham is scheduled to return to court on the probation breach allegation on Feb, 19, with a trial scheduled for March 12. 

 

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