Woman found not guilty of causing disturbance during alleged rant at North Van sushi shop owner

Woman not guilty after rant

A woman accused of going on a racist tirade against a North Vancouver sushi restaurant owner has been found not guilty by a provincial court judge of causing a disturbance.

Judge Lyndsay Smith said while Sylvia Taylor, 70, made some insulting comments during an argument on the street with sushi restaurant owner Edward Hur, her actions weren’t criminal.

In handing down her verdict Tuesday afternoon, Smith said while the “interaction became heated on both sides” and was regrettable, it failed to meet the standard of a disturbance that impeded the regular use of a public area by others.

The incident first came to public attention when Hur, the owner of the Nobu Sushi in Edgemont, shared video of the aftermath of the August 2022 confrontation, which spread widely on social media and resulted in stories from numerous media outlets.

Hur told reporters at the time he asked the woman to not let her dog pee on his storefront. He said she responded to by spitting at him, screaming, and telling him to go back to his own country.

Soon after, North Vancouver RCMP asked for witnesses to come forward and help them identify the woman in the video.

After Taylor was identified and charged, her lawyer David Karp voiced shock and surprise, saying his client was an elderly woman who had done nothing wrong.

Smith’s decision Tuesday follows a two-day trial in February, where Hur, Taylor and a woman who witnessed the exchange all testified in court.

Smith said Tuesday there were “reliability issues” with all of the eyewitness testimony, including discrepancies about whether Taylor was yelling, swearing or spat at Hur.

Taylor denied doing any of those things.

Smith said the most reliable evidence in the case was the one-minute video filmed by Hur that captured most of the interaction.

The argument blew up as Taylor was walking by the sushi shop and Hur became concerned that she might be letting her dog urinate in the entrance to his shop. Hur came out of his shop to ask Taylor to keep her dog under control.

The confrontation continued in a nearby park where Taylor acknowledged saying, “We love our dogs in this country. If you don’t love dogs, go back to your country” – a comment she agreed was a cruel and ignorant remark,” said Smith.

But Smith said the video did not show Taylor screaming or swearing or spitting at Hur.

Other people captured in the background of the video appeared to be going about their business without being unduly concerned by the argument, Smith noted, adding society tolerates momentary annoyances and distractions on public streets.

While Taylor’s actions weren’t always laudable, it takes more than that to make them criminal, the judge said, adding the Crown had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“It is clear that Mr. Hur has had issues with dogs urinating near his restaurant, and it is clear that Ms. Taylor loves dogs. They were both emotional and animated during their interaction and had difficulty seeing the other’s perspective,” said Smith. “It is regrettable that the issue could not have been resolved respectfully between neighbours.”

If not for media interest, “the whole unfortunate incident” would likely “have just gone away,” she said.

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