A Vancouver couple has been sentenced to a year of probation in connection with an anti-Asian attack against a coffee shop manager last year.
Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume, 74, and Astrid Maria Secreve, 76, previously pleaded guilty to individual charges of mischief over the incident, which occurred at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Steveston on March 29, 2021.
The incident, which was caught on video, began after the pair ignored the shop’s COVID-19 guidelines. The Asian Canadian manager, identified as Nikki Tan, asked them to change seats.
However, the couple refused and retaliated against Tan. Berthiaume, who also goes by Eric Bethune, poured his mocha on the floor, while Secreve threw a cup of coffee at the manager. They also said “F*ck you, Chinese” and accused Nikki of having COVID-19.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Diana Vandor described how the couple’s actions could affect an entire community.
“He [Berthiaume] associated Ms. Tan to a virus. This is a dehumanizing expression that calls into question whether Ms. Tan qualifies as a human being,” Vandor said, as per CBC News. “This kind of speech vilifies the targeted group by blaming its members for the current problems in society.”
Berthiaume and Secreve, who are ex-spouses, represented themselves in the case. After entering their guilty plea last month, the crown counsel requested a suspended sentence with 18 months of probation, including 100 hours of community service.
But while the couple pleaded guilty, they reportedly showed no remorse for the attack. Berthiaume reportedly called Tan a “liar” and accused her of staging the whole incident, while Secreve called Tan’s victim impact statement “All B.S.”
Vandor considered the couple’s ages, lack of criminal records and guilty pleas in assigning the 12-month probation sentence. Conditions include staying away from Rocanini Coffee Roasters, having no contact with Tan and another barista, Raymond Chan, and not visiting Tan and Chan’s schools or places or worship, according to Richmond News.
The sentence carries a criminal record. Additionally, Berthiaume and Secreve were each ordered to pay a $100 victim fine surcharge.
Vandor also ruled that additional measures such as counseling or even an apology would be pointless, since neither are actually sorry for what they had done.
“Since Mr. Bethune and Ms. Secreve are not remorseful or apologetic for this offence, I am not persuaded they can be rehabilitated in this way,” Vandor said.
The judge also shared how the incident impacted Tan, who stopped working at the coffee shop a few months after the encounter.
“She [Tan] felt very traumatized for a very long time. She eventually stopped working at the cafe three months later after the mischief because she was not comfortable working there any longer,” Vandor said.
Berthiaume has a history of anti-Chinese behavior. In July 2021, he was filmed yelling anti-Chinese sentiments at protesters, telling them, “If we don’t like Chinese, we can say it.”
Secreve, on the other hand, also made headlines in April after being filmed lashing out at a CTV News crew that included a camera operator of Asian descent. She was filmed using an anti-Chinese slur, flashing her clothed backside and yelling an expletive before entering the courthouse.