Vernon man gets jail time for barrage of homophobic threats | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon man gets jail time for barrage of homophobic threats

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December 14, 2019 - 6:00 AM

A Vernon man will spend time behind bars for uttering homophobic threats to his former landlady after the judge ruled there was a distinct difference between his choice of language and common insults.

Judge Richard Hewson told Cory Harvey Fregin that he said "ugly, nasty things" to the complainant and needlessly targeted her gender and sexual orientation. The female victim in the case is a member of the LGBTQ community.

"I want to speak specifically about what needs to be denounced," Judge Hewson said. "There is a vast difference between attacking somebody with language that focuses on their gender, or their sexual orientation, or their race...(from) choosing offences that might focus on somebody's height or the fact they are bald... (Fregin) chose language that could be used to separate her from the rest of the community."

The court heard the 50-year-old had been living on and off with his elderly mother before being evicted from their home by the complainant so the property could be renovated. Fregin's elderly mother, Ella Reuer, had experienced "a number of confrontations" with the former landlady.

In a separate case, but involving the same complainant, Reuer, born 1942, has been charged with criminal harassment. Fregin is the co-accused in the case, which is set for trial in March 2020.

In May 2018, one confrontation came to a head. The complainant and Fregin were both driving and somehow an argument broke out. Fregin stopped his vehicle, got out and threw his shoe at the complainant's car and kicked the door. He also uttered a barrage of homophobic and gender-specific insults at the victim. Fregin admitted he was trying to scare the victim.

"This is an incident that took place in full view of the public... those people need to know if they act like that on the streets of our town there are going to be consequences," Judge Hewson said.

The judge found Fregin guilty for one charge of mischief under $5,000 and one charge of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm in July. Fregin has a "substantial" criminal record and has been imprisoned before for uttering threats and mischief, although his record has been clean for over a decade.

Crown counsel argued for 90 days of jail time followed by 12 months probation, and that Fregin could not go within 150 metres of the complainant. Crown lawyer Margaret Cissell also suggested counselling for anger management as directed by the probation service.

"From my understanding, there were no alcohol or drugs involved in this matter but rather that Mr. Fregin could not contain his frustration and his anger," she told the court.

Defence lawyer Claire Mastop argued for a period of house arrest with exceptions to run errands and take his mother, who has cancer, to doctor's appointments.

Mastop said Fregin had been a heavy drug user for 25 years and one week before the incident he had begun the process of getting clean.

"This was a very difficult time for Mr. Fregin, controlling his response to the situation is where it went wrong," Mastop said.

Fregin told the judge he'd like to apologize to his former landlady.

However, Judge Hewson seemed unimpressed, telling him "words are cheap."

"I convicted you in July, you were working for the landscaping company then, did you set aside any money to pay for the damage (to the victim's car)?" the judge asked.

Fregin said he could have the $300 to cover the insurance deductible paid within two to three months.

"He's known for some time he's damaged this lady's car and he'd been convicted for doing that, and he's done nothing to put himself in a position to (pay for it)," the judge said.

Judge Hewson once again addressed the slurs Fregin used.

"We can't have a community in a town like this if we are separating ourselves one from the other, and that's why the specific choice of language that Mr. Fregin adopted must be denounced in this sentencing," Hewson said.

Judge Hewson sentenced Fregin to 45 days in prison, served on weekends, along with 12 months probation, and a restitution order to pay $300 to the victim by May 2020.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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