No jail time for St. Thomas man who threw gravel at Trudeau

The St. Thomas man who threw gravel at Canada’s prime minister during a 2021 federal election campaign stop in London will not serve time behind bars.

Shane Marshall appeared in a London courtroom for his sentencing for common assault on Monday morning. The 26-year-old, who was wearing a white button down shirt and black pants, did not speak during the proceedings.

He was given a conditional sentence in which he will serve 90 days house arrest and 12 months probation. He must also perform 80 hours of community service, attending counselling, and is prohibited from communicating with or going within 100 metres of Justin Trudeau. Marshall is additionally banned from possessing any weapons for five years.

In delivering the sentence, Ontario Court Justice Kevin McHugh noted that Marshall had every right to attend the September 6, 2021 Liberal campaign whistle stop at London Co-Operative Brewing Company and express displeasure with Trudeau’s political beliefs and agenda. However, he overstepped when he threw gravel at Trudeau as he boarded his campaign bus.

“What Mr.Marshall did was stifle discussion and discourage political volunteerism for fear of intimidation or physical violence,” said McHugh. “The act of throwing gravel in the fashion that he did certainly had the potential to cause injury particularly if one were to be hit in the face or the eye with this material. By any measure this was a serious assault.”

Mitigating factors that were taken into account included this being Marshall’s first offence, that he accepted responsibility and expressed remorse, and that it was not premeditated.

Marshall admitted that he had been drinking the day of the incident and let his anger get the better of him in the moment, leading to his bending down, picking up a handful of tiny stones and tossing them at Trudeau. The prime minister was not hurt in the assault and did not provide a victim impact statement.

McHugh stated that the act itself was an aggravating factor in the case.

“Acts of violence against our public figures are anti-democratic and need to be denounced in the strongest of terms,” said McHugh. “Mr. Marshall did not just impose upon Mr. Trudeau’s health and safety, in a very public, enchantable way he threatened the liberties and the sense of security we all hold dear in this country. This was not an expression of political beliefs, it was a manifestation of mob mentality which, left unchecked, allows anarchy to prevail.”

The Crown had been seeking a 30 day jail sentence to be followed by 12 months probation to deter similar acts of violence against political figures.

Defence lawyer Luke Reidy had asked for a suspended sentence, noting that Marshall had no criminal record before the incident and had learned his lesson.

Marshall was an official with the Elgin Middlesex London People’s Party of Canada (PPC) riding association at the time of the offence. He was removed from his post after charges were announced against him five days after the incident.

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