A Penticton man who ascribes to the “Freeman of the Land” mentality was sentenced to jail for assaulting a senior working as a Walmart greeter at the height of the pandemic.
On Sept. 28, Timothy Martin Herbert Beresford was sentenced to six months jail for the assault in Penticton Provincial Court, according to the judgment which was published on Nov. 8.
According to the judgment, on Oct. 16, 2021 Beresford had attempted to ride his scooter into the Penticton Walmart without a mask, which was against public health mandates at the time.
“Through his actions and words during the incident and in court, Beresford confirms that he did not and does not believe the mask mandate during COVID-19 was appropriate and it infringed upon his rights,” reads the judgment.
The 70-year-old greeter at the door told Beresford that he would have to leave without a mask, and in response, Beresford drove his scooter repeatedly into the greeter.
The judgment notes that Beresford was substantially bigger than the victim, as well as 20 years younger. It was also noted that despite driving a scooter there was no indication that Beresford had any mobility issues.
After ramming the senior with his scooter, Beresford got off of it and then proceeded to punch his victim, leaving him with an injury that required treatment to realign his jaw.
Customers rushed to the greeter’s aid and Beresford was forced to leave, but not before again getting off his scooter and aggressively approaching other employees.
Judge Koturbash noted that the age of the victim and his size already made him vulnerable, but that the pandemic and the risks from contracting COVID-19 increased the vulnerability.
“At the time, Beresford indicated that he aligned himself with the Freeman on the Land movement. His comments in court are consistent with someone who remains committed to such a movement, a movement that believes the laws of Canada have no application to them,” reads the judgement. “In other words, they believe they are above the law, a misinformed and misguided belief.”
A guilty plea was entered by Beresford, removing the need for a trial and forcing his victim to testify, but it was noted that he did not demonstrate regret for his actions.
“Although remorse is another mitigating factor that flows from that admission of guilt, I am not satisfied, given Beresford’s comments in court today, that he has any measure of remorse or empathy for his victim.”
In June 2023, he breached a recognizance related to the case which resulted in a 15 day jail sentence.
In addition to the six months in jail, Beresford is banned from going to the Walmart and banned from possessing weapons for three years.
No other probation conditions were assigned towards rehabilitation, which the judgment notes were due to believing they would not be followed and a waste of resources.