Man who drew swastika on wall of downtown St. Catharines business to return to court in February

A Niagara man who drew a swastika on the wall of a business in downtown St. Catharines will learn his fate in February.

Alan Halstead appeared in an Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to multiple charges including mischief and assault with a weapon.

The defendant was charged with mischief in August 2021 after he was captured on video surveillance using a black permanent marker to draw a swastika and write “Heil Hitler” on the brick wall of a coffee shop on St. Paul Street.

The offender also pleaded guilty to charges in relation to a violent incident which occurred at the Pen Centre.

In October 2022, court heard, the defendant left a Zehrs store without paying for $100 in merchandise and was approached by two loss-prevention officers.

He dropped the items and began punching one of the officers. He also threw a sealed beer can at the officer, striking him in the face.

Assistant Crown attorney Ashley Galea said the victim was also struck in the back several times with “an unknown sharp metal object.”

In April 2022, in an unrelated incident, the offender attended a Tim Hortons in St. Catharines and was observed throwing scissors around the store and waiving a knife.

He then blocked the exit and stared at customers as he held the knife. He was under a court order at the time not to have any weapons in his possession.

Judge Fergus ODonnell, noting the “nature of the offences,” ordered a presentence report be prepared prior to sentencing and adjourned the matter until February.

“There are issues of public safety in these offences,” he said.

“On the (mischief charge), there is the question of what exactly was underlying it. Was it immaturity or something else?”

Defence lawyer Alison McArthur told the judge her client’s behaviour was fuelled by substance abuse.

“A lot of these incidents were methamphetamine related,” she said.

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