Trudeau gravel-thrower sentenced to 90 days house arrest, one year probation

Shane Marshall had pleaded guilty to common assault in March

By Jordan Omstead in London

An Ontario man who threw gravel at Justin Trudeau during an election campaign rally was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest on Monday, with a judge denouncing the 2021 assault as an “expression of mob mentality.”

Shane Marshall was handed a 90-day conditional sentence and one year of probation at his sentencing in London, Ont.

The former local riding executive for the People’s Party of Canada admitted to throwing gravel at Trudeau as he boarded a campaign bus to leave a protest-marred rally in London in the lead-up to the September 2021 election. Trudeau was hit by some of the gravel, the judge said, but left uninjured. 

Justice Kevin McHugh said acts of violence against public figures are “anti-democratic and need to be denounced in the strongest terms.” 

“This was not an expression of political beliefs. It was a manifestation of mob mentality, which if left unchecked allows anarchy to prevail,” McHugh said as he issued Marshall’s sentence. 

Marshall, 26, pleaded guilty to common assault in March, on the same day his case was set to go to trial and after a failed attempt to get Trudeau to testify. Marshall was originally charged with assault with a weapon. 

His lawyer, Luke Reidy, applauded the sentence as fair and balanced, saying Marshall acknowledged the seriousness and potential danger of his actions. The Crown had asked for a 30-day jail sentence. 

“His goal now is to find a way to deal with his emotion, through counselling and to make sure this never happens again,” Reidy said outside the London courthouse. 

Asked whether Marshall had any plans to attend People’s Party of Canada political rallies, Reidy said “he has no immediate plans for that.”

“He definitely has to reconsider how he deals with his political positions,” the lawyer said. 

The People’s Party of Canada has previously said it removed Marshall as riding association president after reviewing video clips of the stone throwing. The far-right political party ran on a platform that included drastically reducing the number of refugees and immigrants Canada accepts and repealing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Elections Canada records list a Shane Marshall as the chief executive of the party’s Elgin-Middlesex-London riding association during the 2021 election.

Trudeau’s federal campaign events as Liberal leader in 2021 were regularly interrupted by protesters who railed against COVID-19 vaccine policies and measures the government introduced to stem the spread of the virus.

In crafting Marshall’s sentence, McHugh reviewed the case of a man who was sentenced to 60 days house arrest for threatening to kill Trudeau during the same 2021 campaign.

McHugh also cited pie-throwing cases targeting former prime minister Jean Chretien and former Alberta premier Ralph Klein. The man who pied Chretien in 2000 during an event in Charlottetown was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but later only served eight days in custody after appealing his sentence, McHugh said.

Marshall was ordered to stay at his home 24-7 for the length of his conditional sentence, only leaving for medical emergencies or under the permission of his probation officer. The judge also ordered Marshall to keep his distance and avoid making any contact with Trudeau. The sentence includes a five-year weapons prohibition. 

While the judge accepted Marshall did not show up to the rally with a plan to throw gravel at Trudeau, he said Marshall nonetheless committed a serious assault. 

“Mr. Marshall did not just impose on Mr. Trudeau’s health and safety,” he said. “In a very public and tangible way he threatened the liberties and sense of security that we all hold dear in this country.”

Banner image: A man, top right, throws gravel at Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, left, as the RCMP security detail provide protection, while protesters shout at a local microbrewery during the Canadian federal election campaign in London Ont., on Monday, September 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.