A teenager was punched, held underwater and had his earrings ripped out during a tussle over a controversial Balm Beach fence, a Midland court heard Tuesday. The boy, now 15, was the first witness called in the trial of John Marion and his son Greg. The boy cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The two Tiny Township men were charged with assault causing bodily harm after allegedly roughing up the then-14-year-old when he twice scaled a six-foot-high wooden fence to cross the Marion property. The youth shared his version of the events of July 24, 2008. “I saw a man charging out of the back door and screaming,” said the boy, referring to Greg Marion. “When he said, ‘Get the f*** off my property,’ I stepped in the water and said, ‘I’m not on your property.’” At that point, the Mississauga teen said before Judge Jon-Jo Douglas, Greg Marion “jumped” him and pushed him in the water, ripping out his diamond-stud earrings and pushing him under the surface. The boy also injured his right hand in the scuffle. “I was trying to keep my head above water because he was on top of me,” he said. “Then the older Marion came running out and struck me in the back of the head.” The boy’s account aligned with that of his father, who told Crown attorney Jennifer Armenise he saw Greg Marion speaking with his son, who was standing ankle-deep in the water at the time. “The gentleman in question lunged at my son,” said the man, pointing at Greg Marion in the courtroom when asked to identify the person he saw that day. Dressed casually in faded jeans and an untucked, striped dress shirt, Greg Marion had no visible reaction to the testimony. The alleged victim’s father said when another man entered the fray, taking a swing at his son, he was already sprinting to the scene to help. He pointed to John Marion, dressed for court in a grey sports coat and black slacks, as the second assailant. Defence attorney David Wilcox challenged the testimony, suggesting the younger boy threw the first punch when John Marion pushed him toward the water. “I didn’t punch him,” said the boy, shaking his head. In his cross-examination of the father, Wilcox offered up the theory that he was the aggressor, actually punching John Marion twice in the head after the initial fracas ended. “I never punched either one of them,” said the man, a self-employed contractor. Three witnesses to the altercation gave testimony that in some ways contradicted that version of events. Freda O’Brien, a Toronto resident vacationing at Balm Beach last July, said it was John Marion, not Greg, who first confronted the boy and “struck him with a closed fist.” Mike and Michelle Davis also pointed to John Marion as the initiator of the melee, although they differed as to whether he pushed or punched the boy. Michelle Davis told police at the time that it was a shove, but said Tuesday it was a punch. In addition, O’Brien and Mike Davis each stated the teen’s father threw punches during the incident, contradicting what he had stated earlier. “They were all punching,” said O’Brien. “It was a huge ball – just like you’d see in a cartoon – all arms and feet.” John Marion’s wife, Elisabeth, said it was her son Greg who first approached the boy as he crossed their property for the second time. As the pair spoke, she told the court, her husband walked toward the boy and pushed him toward the water. “All of a sudden, the boy took a swing,” she said. “Then he grabbed my husband by the shirt and swung him around.” She said the boy’s father quickly arrived and began hitting her husband and forcing his head underwater. “(John) got out from under him and crawled on his hands and knees up to the beach, and (the man) kept punching him in the back of the head,” she said. Elisabeth Marion testified she never saw her husband or son strike either the boy or his father. Armenise questioned Elisabeth Marion about the impact the long-running fence dispute has had on her life. Acrimony over public access to the beach in front of the Marions’ waterfront home has led to name calling and vandalism. “Living hell,” the longtime Balm Beach resident said of the last few years. The disagreement has seen a chainsaw used on a portion of the fence and a pellet gun fired at the Marions’ car, as well as a section of fence being set ablaze just 12 hours before the July 24 confrontation. The Crown has called all the witnesses on its list, while the defence will continue to present its case when the trial resumes May 28. [email protected]
The Thornbury Independent Order of Oddfellows received their Charter in October of 1884 and in 1936 they purchased the lodge building on Main Street in Thornbury. The upper level of the building became the lodge hall and half of the main floor has been home to the Thornbury Bakery for many years and the other half in later years Studio 16. Over the years the loge has supported various local charities along with fire and accident victims. For many years the lodge put on a New Year’s Eve dance at the Thornbury High School, which is now the elementary school. At a provincial level, the I.O.O.F. lodges support summer camps for kids with Cancer, one being Camp Trillium. The lodges also support an eye research program through the University of Toronto as well as Leukemia research. In the past few years, membership in the Thornbury lodge started to decline and as existing members started to age, a decision was made in 2008 to close the Thornbury lodge and amalgamate with Spirit Rock lodge in Wiarton. At this time the lodge building was sold. The remaining members of the lodge now had the responsibility to disperse of the lodge assets and the main objective was to keep the money within the community. Donations at this time have been made to the installation of a new audio system in the arena, the Beaver Valley Outreach, the Beaver Valley Athletic Association, the Beaver Valley Pre-school, the Thornbury theatre group, the Marsh St. Centre, the Golden Beavers and the Community Family Health Centres.