British Columbia judge dismisses assault appeal involving ‘warring roommates’

Feng Han held a butcher knife to another man’s throat after kicking down his room door, but the victim was unharmed.

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The Crown has lost a parole appeal for a British Columbia man who broke down his roommate’s suite door and threatened him with a butcher knife to his throat during a heated exchange.

In October 2022, Feng Han rented a room in the same Richmond house as the complainant and relations between them were “negative” from the beginning, the court heard at trial.

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On December 17, 2022, the roommate was smoking outside when he threw a stick onto Han’s balcony, waking him up. When the roommate refused Han’s request to stop, Han threw him a plastic chair and told him he would come get him.

The roommate ran back to his room and taunted Han through a window. Holding the butcher knife in his hand, Han kicked the man’s door twice, forcing it open and knocking down his roommate. The two ended up in bed with Han on top of the victim with the knife at his throat for almost three minutes while the man begged for mercy.

There was another fight in the kitchen after the roommate told Han that the attack had been recorded.

Han pleaded guilty to forcible entry and assault with a weapon at a trial in June 2023. The Crown sought a six to nine month jail term followed by probation, while Han’s lawyers asked for probation. On September 13, 2023, Han was granted parole and two years of probation, including 188 hours of community service.

The Crown disagreed, arguing that the assault was premeditated and serious and that the sentence did not adequately address the legal principles of deterrence and denunciation.

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But British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Anita Chan dismissed the appeal, noting that despite some aggravating factors, Han had no criminal record, did not physically injure the victim, pleaded guilty and expressed remorse, and subsequently received extensive counseling about his anger problems.

Chan deemed the dismissal appropriate due to Han’s “good character” and said Han should be “given a second chance and not be saddled with a criminal record.”

“The core of the Crown’s appeal is that the sentence imposed was inadequate as it was not proportionate to the seriousness of the offense and the degree of responsibility of the offender,” reads the appeal decision published online on Tuesday.

The Crown argued that this was a “prolonged and violent attack” and that grabbing the knife before bursting into the room showed premeditation. But the jail-term cases referred to by the Crown involved significant injuries to the victim and one case involved an accused with a criminal record.

None of those aggravating factors were at play in the assault between “warring roommates,” making them poor comparisons, according to the appeals judge.

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