A workplace disagreement in Bracebridge ended in a violent confrontation and very nearly death, a criminal court heard recently.
On Wednesday, Justice Peter Tetley found Zengmin Ma, 60, guilty of aggravated assault, stemming from an incident that occurred on July 23, 2019. Ma pleaded not guilty during a trial that took place on Sept. 28 and 29, 2022.
Court heard that during the incident the victim was cut multiple times with a boxcutter, including a 25 cm laceration across the width of his chest that penetrated the chest muscles and the rib cage and came within 1 mm of the victim’s heart.
The two men had both been working at a restaurant in Bracebridge, along with Ma’s wife, at the time of the incident. All three also lived together in Bracebridge. Although Ma and the victim enjoyed a cordial relationship (even referring to each other as “big brother” and little brother” respectively) the relationship between the victim and Ma’s wife was strained, court heard.
The defence maintained that the victim had threatened to kill Ma’s wife on multiple occasions, due to what he felt was her harassing behaviour at the restaurant. In fact, Ma and his wife had told the owner of the restaurant the couple would both be resigning from their positions due to the ongoing verbal abuse and threats from the victim. All of the defence witnesses confirmed the relationship between the victim and Ma’s wife was strained and he had threatened her on multiple threats.
On the day of the incident, the victim admitted to drinking heavily, and could not recall much of what happened, court heard.
According to the defence, Ma had joined the victim in his room for drinks around 10 pm. The situation was cordial at first, court heard. During the evening Ma’s wife requested several times for him to come back to their apartment. The defence claimed the victim was angry with her, saying, “Why are so annoying, always shouting or yelling? If you keep doing this I will kill you.”
According to the defence, Ma told the victim to relax but unexpectedly and without warning the victim produced a boxcutter. He then uttered “kill her ” and Ma believed the complaint was going to kill his wife, the defence maintained. Ma tried to stop the victim but the victim hit Ma in the head with a wine bottle, said the defence. Ma then pushed the victim onto the floor and he went down face-first with Ma on his back. Ma did not know the extent of the injuries until he got up and they were both covered in blood, claimed the defence. Ma’s wife then entered the room and took the victim to hospital, where he remained in intensive care for nearly a week before being released.
Ma claimed he never cut the victim intentionally and was simply trying to stop him and protect his wife.
Although Justice Tetley admitted that the victim’s recollection of the events was “compromised” by his excessive alcohol consumption, he found a number of flaws with the defence.
Tetley said the injuries sustained by the victim were not consistent with Ma’s description of the fall. The victim sustained cuts to the back, arm, wrist and hand, in addition to the laceration across his chest. Likewise, Ma’s injuries were not consistent with being struck in the head “8 or 9 times” with a wine bottle, the justice concluded. Tetley said Ma outweighed the victim by at least 50 lbs and it would be difficult to believe he could hit him that many times without restraining him.
“I conclude the wounds are inconsistent with the testimony offered by the defendant,” said Tetley. “This was intentional and repeated.”
Even if the victim had threatened Ma’s wife, Tetley said there were less violent means that could have been used to neutralize the threat.
Sentencing was put over until June 20, 2023, for a pre-sentence report.
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