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Couple in Richmond racial cafe incident makes final comment

Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve said incident was not a hate crime — and blames the Chinese community for attention on the case.
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Michel Jean-Jacque (Eric) Berthiaume (left) and Astrid Maria Secreve made a brief appearance in Richmond Provincial Court on Wednesday to wrap up their sentencing hearing.

The sentencing hearing for the couple involved in a racist incident at a Steveston coffee shop concluded on Wednesday afternoon.

Michel Jean-Jacque (Eric) Berthiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve made a brief appearance at Richmond Provincial Court on Oct. 12 to give their opinions on community impact statements submitted to the court.

The couple had pleaded guilty to mischief charges in relation to pouring coffee on the floor, throwing a cup at a Chinese barista, and uttering "f*** you Chinese" at Steveston's Rocanini Coffee Roasters in 2021.

Both strongly opposed admitting the statements as evidence for sentencing, as they were "preposterous," said Berthiaume.

He told the Court that the impact statements were from "organized Chinese community organizations," including some associated with "a communist newspaper based here in Vancouver," and such statements "distorted the truth."

"Saying that it's a hate crime... we never got charged with hate crime we got charged with mischief," he said, adding that groups that submitted the statements had "cultural bias" and were "raising the public" against the couple.

"This is all orchestrated, you know, to create a political segment that, you know, we're going to be sacrificed for the good of the Chinese community," said Berthiaume.

Judge Diana Vandor ultimately accepted the community impact statements as they had met the procedural criteria.

When Vandor proceeded to explain her decision to the couple, Berthiaume interjected and said they "don't want to hear it."

Before the hearing concluded, Berthiaume informed the court of his safety concerns as the couple's cars were "spat on" and were allegedly "physically attacked" in separate cases.

"You asked yesterday should the community be fearful of us. It's not the community should fear us, we should fear our community," he said, adding the community is like a "pack of wolves" based on "the lie that we've been charged with hatred."

Berthiaume said the case was simply about "two cups of coffee, each respectively poured on the floor."

"This is exactly the type of scenario that can bring in vigilante from the Chinese community to shoot at us," he said, "This is getting to be out of hand."

The case is adjourned until Monday, when a sentencing date will be set.