Spice man trial: Assault victim asked why he didn’t seek help at scene
Manuel Belo, the victim in the spice man trial, testified Thursday that he didn’t deserve to be attacked by Toronto restaurateur Naveen Polapady.
By: Kamila Hinkson News reporter, Published on Thu Jun 20 2013
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Would you ride your bicycle home to wash out your eyes? Or try to find someone to help?
Those were questions posed to Manuel Belo, the victim in what’s been dubbed the “spice man trial”, after he resumed his testimony Thursday. In August 2011, restaurateur Naveen Polapady allegedly threw a “chicken masala” mixture at Belo and struck him numerous times with a broomstick after mistaking him for another man, who Polapady caught on camera breaking into his cube van.
After the incident, Belo got on his bicycle and rode roughly four blocks from Polapady’s Bloor St. property, which doubles as his restaurant and his house, to his own Palmerston Ave. home, shared with his mother and daughter. Belo said he kept one eye open at a time as he travelled.
Defence lawyer Calvin Barry asked why he didn’t try to get help before going home.
“I had to get whatever it was that was stinging my face off,” Belo said.
Barry suggested Belo didn’t stick around or stop for help because he was attempting to break into Polapady’s van that day, and didn’t want to be arrested. Belo categorically denied that statement.
Polapady is facing charges of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon related to the scuffle.
Belo maintained that he didn’t know he was on Polapady’s property when he walked toward the door to scout for empty bottles to cash in, what used to be a regular pastime for him. But even then, the 51-year-old bricklayer said he didn’t deserve to be attacked over a case of mistaken identity.
Polapady has said he mistook Belo for a man he caught on video breaking into his car four days before the altercation, on Aug. 17, 2011.
“Whether or not (Belo) thought of all the times he’d been on (Polapady’s) property, that one time he got it wrong, really is a red herring,” Barry said.
Belo was arrested after the tussle, but was never charged with a crime.
Police later arrested another man, Justin Mitchell, for stealing from Polapady’s van. He pleaded guilty to theft under $5,000 last April.
During his cross-examination, Barry often referred back to statements Belo made either to the police the day of his arrest, or during an April court appearance, and pointed out what he believed to be contradictions in Belo’s testimony.
At one point, Crown attorney John Flaherty objected to Barry’s method of questioning, saying that the defence lawyer was “trying to take advantage of (Belo’s) lack of recollection.”
Justice Peter Harris, said he would allow the questioning, noting that Belo was perhaps more certain about some details than he should be.
The line of inquiry “goes to the question of how reliable he is,” Harris said.
The trial will resume Nov. 14.