Curfew and internet ban for B.C. man convicted of online hate against Jewish people
Arthur Topham tells judge it was his 'duty to alert public ... to 'imminent threat of Jewish lobby'
A B.C. man convicted of an anti-semitic hate crime has been kicked off the internet, but Arthur Topham won't serve any jail time.
Following a trial in Quesnel in 2015, a jury convicted Topham of one count of communicating online statements that wilfully promoted hatred against Jewish people.
He could have faced up to two years in jail.
But at his sentencing Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Judge Bruce Butler rejected the Crown's request for four months of house arrest for what Crown lawyer Jennifer Johnston called "an indirect call for violence against Jewish people."
Judge rejects house arrest
Instead, Butler sentenced Topham to a six-month conditional sentence with a ban on posting publicly online and a curfew.
Topham appeared unrepentant, telling the court before sentencing that it was 'his duty ... to alert the ... public to the imminent threat .... [of] the Jewish lobby."
Topham, a 70 year old grandfather and retired teacher, published RadicalPress.com online from his rural home in Cottonwood, B.C., about 700 kilometres north of Vancouver.
The site featured frequent posts that touted Jewish conspiracies and demonized Jewish people.
One piece that Topham called 'satire' advocated the forced sterilization of all Jews.
"He does not call for violence; his views were political satire," Butler told the sentencing hearing. "It is not his intent to indirectly incite violence."
Butler ruled that Topham deliberately used the internet to disseminate anti-Semitic information but said the man was not calling for violence.
Controversial website shut down
The crown noted Topham had already agreed to shut down his website, a site which remained active for the year after his conviction but was gone before sentencing. Topham also offered to end his online presence.
Defence lawyer Barclay Johnson had called on the judge to give Topham a discharge.
"My view is that jurors were not convinced," said the defence lawyer, noting Topham was convicted of only one of two hate crime charges.
Johnson described his client as a good teacher, a father and grandfather and a journalist with "controversial views" and a large following.
"RadicalPress does not advocate violence," said Johnson. "It does not say Jews should be hurt. My client is being prosecuted for material that can be found on Amazon."
Topham's defence backed by 'white nationalists'
This case was the first hate crime trial prosecuted in B.C. in almost a decade.
Topham's defence fund was backed by Paul Fromm, a self proclaimed 'white nationalist' and free speech advocate who travelled from Ontario to attend the trial.
Topham's lawyer argued his client has never been a member of a white supremacy group.
Topham's case also attracted support from the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, which denounced Canada's hate crime law for criminalizing "belief, opinion and expression of one's beliefs and opinions ... incompatible with the universal principle of free debate in a democracy."
Topham thanked the court for "bringing my concerns to the record."
"I felt that I had a duty as a Canadian citizen to alert the general public of an imminent threat ... the interests of the Jewish lobby," said Topham in court Monday.
Topham's constitutional challenge of Canada's hate crime laws was dismissed in February.