The first of two brothers convicted of inciting racial hatred and criminal harassment, after burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple in N.S., will spend two more months in custody.
Nathan Rehberg, 21, and his brother Justin, 20, set a 2.5-metre cross on fire on the lawn of a family which included a white woman and a black man, in February. They were convicted of inciting racial hatred and criminal harassment in November.
Nathan Rehberg was sentenced in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, in Kentville, to four months plus one day for inciting racial hatred. The time is considered already served, as he was given double credit for the time he has been in custody.
He was sentenced to six months on the harassment charge, knocked down to two months because of time already spent behind bars– meaning he will be jailed for two more months.
Rehberg sobbed in court and apologized to Michelle Lyon and Shayne Howe - the couple on whose lawn he had burned the cross.
CBC News reported that he called the act "a stupid, careless mistake that I will never forgive myself for."
He had told the judge that he was drunk during the incident.
The brothers had earlier stated that they burned the cross in revenge for Lyon spreading rumours that they had sexually transmitted diseases.
“The incident involved a focused, direct attack on a single family,” The Globe and Mail quoted Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice John Murphy as saying. “There was psychological impact on the victims.”
The couple had been considering leaving the community before they were convinced to stay by hundreds of local people who marched to show support for them.
When Rehberg is released from jail he will be on 30 months probation, during which time he must stay away from Lyons and Howe. He is also required to perform 50 hours of community service, receive a mental health assessment and counselling and undergo substance abuse counselling.
The Chronicle Herald reported that Lyon and Howe told reporters outside the courtroom that they accept Rehberg's apology and are satisfied with the sentence.