‘Tarantino-esque’: Crown describes 2022 group beating of man inside Victoria supportive housing

'Tarantino-esque': Crown describes 2022 group beating of man inside Victoria supportive housing

Prosecutors call it “over-the-top” violence. “Tarantino-esque” even.

One horrifying night in April 2022, Oliver Nicholson was beaten up, taped to a chair and had a torch-heated toonie placed on his chest before being set on fire inside a suite at a supportive housing facility in Victoria, all over a $200 drug debt.

Douglas Hughes, 43, is already convicted of extortion, unlawful confinement, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon related to the attack and appeared in front of a judge Monday for day one of sentencing.

He is one of five people convicted in the incident. Previously found guilty of confinement is Christine Berryman, an ex-girlfriend of both the victim and Hughes.

Ty McLaughlin, Alemayehu Townsend and Alex Formosa were also all convicted of confinement and assault causing bodily harm.

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Hughes stood to address the court Monday, apologizing for what happened.

“I was on drugs every day, I was homeless,” said Hughes, who is participating in a methadone program while incarcerated. “My mind wasn’t in the right spot. Every day it goes by I wish I could take it back and change it. I’m sorry for that. My whole role, I’m sorry for that.”

What will likely play a big mitigating factor in the judge’s future sentence, was Hughes’ childhood, which was depicted as toxic and dysfunctional.

Hughes says at a young age he faced ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. At 13, a severe car crash caused possible brain damage that changed his temperament and may have been a turning point for his anger and drug issues.

Also conveyed to the court was Hughes’ experience of being confined to a basement with no food by a social worker.

Hughes’ family’s history of addiction and homelessness was also highlighted, something his defence attorney Ryan Drury attributed to his mother being a 60’s scoop survivor and his grandmother, a residential school survivor.

The victim of the 2022 attack, Nicholson, was able to testify in court during the trial in October, but in April, he was stabbed to death just steps away from the facility where he was so severely beaten two years earlier.

Victoria police are still not saying anything about a possible suspect, only that no arrests in the stabbing have been made.

In sentencing for Nicholson’s torture, Hughes’ defence is asking for 3 years to be served concurrently. Crown is asking for four years to be served concurrently.

The judge asked for time to deliberate Monday, leaving Hughes’ actual sentence to be delivered at a later date.


Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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