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Trial postponed for couple charged in alleged Richmond racist incident

A couple being charged with mischief are representing themselves in court.
Richmond Provincial Court

A trial for a couple charged with mischief in an alleged racist incident at a Steveston coffee shop was postponed to a future date.

Michel Jean-Jacque Bertiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve were charged with mischief under $5,000 after it was alleged they threw coffee at Rocanini Coffee Roasters staff, who were of Asian ethnicity, and uttered racial slurs in March 2021.

The trial was set to start on April 8 in Richmond Provincial Court.

While the complainant was on videolink from China waiting to take part in the trial, Justice G. Lee determined the defendants hadn’t been able to access the necessary files for the trial to proceed.

Bertiaume and Secreve are representing themselves in court. Bertiaume said they are seniors and so the technology for viewing the files – which were burned on CDs – is hard for them to access.

Justice Lee told Bertiaume to reach out to Crown counsel for help to access the CDs, adding he wants the matter of the files sorted out before a trial is held.

Bertiaume also asked the judge if the trial could be moved to a location outside of Richmond such as Vancouver.

Furthermore, Bertiaume told the judge he will plead not guilty. He added he doesn't want to speak anymore in the trial, saying “I wash my hands” of the proceedings, calling it “monkey business.”

Members of a non-profit were outside the courthouse to bring attention to the case, saying they encourage people to come forward and report any alleged racist incidents to police.

“People should speak out so racist people can be educated,” said Ally Wang who represents the Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes advocacy group.

Wang said the group took this case very seriously and that’s when they came together to organize the non-profit.

A new two-day trial will be scheduled for a future date.