Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tuxedo residents allege nightmare neighbour

Man charged with assault; racism cited

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Think life is just peachy for people living in those big houses in Tuxedo?

Think again.

Several Tuxedo residents say they are worried and one says she is living in fear, under siege from a neighbour they say is violent, racist and anti-Semitic.

Two security cameras have been installed, high fences built and a large dog has been purchased to protect property. Still, some people say they're afraid to go out into their own yards.

A 46-year-old man has been charged with assault causing bodily harm after allegedly attacking 73-year-old neurologist Dr. Francis Dominique in the spring of 2007.

The man, standing in the front foyer of his home, said the charges are "completely unwarranted." He refused to discuss the matter further because it's before the courts.

The next court date is Oct. 5.

The neighbours were more than willing to talk.

"The first time, my wife looked out the back window. There was this guy shovelling snow and garbage over the fence and into my backyard," Dominique said. "I said 'what are you doing? Stop that!' He took a shovelful of snow and garbage and got me in the face."

Things escalated.

There was a dispute over pine needles from the Dominiques' backyard falling into his neighbour's backyard. The police were called.

"Then he threatened to beat up my wife," alleged Dominique. "He told my wife and me to go back from where we came from. He threatened to beat up 'our old asses.'"

The Dominiques are originally from Trinidad.

Francis Dominique admitted he also hurled racial epithets across the back fence as the conflict grew. He said he's ashamed but said he was provoked.

"He called us 'sand niggers.' Frankly I had never heard the expression 'sand nigger.' "

After a series of confrontations, Dominique claims the man jumped over the back fence and attacked him.

"He knocked me down, grabbed my testicles. He was hitting me all over the chest, the heart. He was hitting me over the heart with intention."

None of these allegations has been proven in court.

Vydha Dominique, who is physically disabled, attempted to get the attacker off her husband. She flung a stick at him and went into the house to call police.

She said the incident has left her traumatized.

"I'll be very honest. Since this occurred I can't sleep. It's just such an awful emotional experience. What are we alive for if this is existing?"

Resident Richard Swyston said the neighbourhood changed when the man, his wife, and young child moved in.

In a telephone interview from Hong Kong, where he is working, Swyston claimed the man verbally abused him.

"He said, 'You (expletive) Jew. You goddamn Jew boy. You Jews are all the same,' " Swyston alleged.

Swyston called the police, who were sympathetic but unable to help.

"We put in bars, we put in alarms, we put in cameras. We're afraid."

Gemma Swyston, Richard's wife, said the house across the street went up for sale after the accused man tore up his own front lawn and replaced it with gravel, giant boulders and a fence. That house is currently vacant.

According to the Jewish Post, the B'nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights has been notified of the case and is investigating.

At least one neighbour said he has been able to work out a cordial relationship with the man.

"At the beginning we had some unpleasant dealings," said Mike Wasylkiw. "We have always wanted to be pleasant. We don't have him over for dinner but we get along now."

The accused man, Joseph Zielinski, works for the Canadian Forces 17 Wing. Public affairs officer Capt. Jeff Noel said Monday the Canadian Forces are aware of the allegations and are taking them seriously.

They are co-operating with the Winnipeg police, Noel said. The man remains employed.

There's always an element of he-said-she-said to these cases. The neighbours claim the man is waging a campaign of terror. He denies it.

Swyston said the neighbours don't expect the man to go to jail for the attack. He'd like a conviction to prove a point. Mostly, he'd like calm to return to his street.

Something tells me that's not going to happen any time soon.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2009 B2

History

Updated on Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 4:08 PM CDT: Corrects Zielinski's role with the military.

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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