A formerly married couple accused of hurling racial slurs and coffee at a coffee shop manager in Vancouver last year have each pleaded guilty to a charge of mischief.
Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve, ex-spouses who have been representing themselves in the case, admitted to their roles in the incident at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Steveston, which occurred on March 29, 2021, and was caught on video.
The incident began after the pair ignored the shop’s COVID-19 guidelines, according to reports. The Asian Canadian manager, identified only as Nikki, asked them to change seats.
However, the couple refused and retaliated against Nikki: Berthiaume, 74, poured his mocha on the floor, while Secreve, 76, threw a cup of coffee at the manager. They also said “F*ck you, Chinese” and accused Nikki of having COVID-19.
After the pair entered their guilty plea on Tuesday, the crown counsel requested a suspended sentence with 18 months of probation, including 100 hours of community service, according to Richmond News. They allegedly showed no remorse and downplayed the attack.
Despite pleading guilty, Berthiaume reportedly called Nikki a “liar” and accused her of staging the whole incident. “The reason I’m pleading guilty this morning is we want this nightmare to be over,” he told the court.
Berthiaume has long insisted that his actions were not racist, describing them as “preferences.” In July 2021, he was filmed yelling anti-Chinese sentiments at protesters, telling them, “If we don’t like Chinese, we can say it.”
Meanwhile, Secreve reportedly called Nikki’s victim impact statement “All B.S.” She also described the Chinese community in Richmond as “very challenging.”
Secreve also made headlines in April after being filmed lashing out at a CTV News crew that included a camera operator of Asian descent. She used an anti-Chinese slur, flashed her clothed backside and yelled an expletive before entering the courthouse.
Both Berthiaume and Secreve have objected to the community service, citing health reasons. They are scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.