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Bicycle thief Kenk's assault charges stayed

The National Post: Bicycle thief Kenk's assault charges stayed

Legal Saga Ends

Matthew Coutts, National Post
Published: Friday, February 12, 2010

The final chapter in a courtroom drama surrounding bike thief Igor Kenk closed with a whimper yesterday, when a judge agreed to stay assault charges against the 50-year-old Slovenian, ultimately ending a two-year narrative behind one of the city's most compelling characters.

"He's the last of the Queen West outlaws. What you are talking about is the end of an era in the neighbourhood, to some degree," said Richard Popack, the author of the soon-to-be-released graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait.

"He is so compelling. Yeah, sure he's a bit of a scumbag. He's a crook. But at the same time, he's a hell of a compelling guy."

A dishevelled and bearded Kenk appeared in a criminal court for perhaps the last time yesterday, on leave from the Don Jail where he is serving time after pleading guilty on charges stemming from the 2008 seizure of thousands of presumably stolen bikes hoarded in his Queen Street West bike shop, and garages and storage units he had rented.

With his hands shackled behind him, his pants slumped down his backside, exposing a shirt stuffed under a grey fleece.

With his hands recuffed in front, he slumped into a chair and waited in patient silence for the last chapter of his courtroom drama to begin. It was over in a matter of minutes.

Crown lawyer Robert Wright requested the charges be stayed as it was "no longer in the public's interest to proceed." He cited the plea bargain Kenk agreed to, sentencing him to 30 months in prison for 10 counts of possession of stolen bicycles and various drug charges, stating the settlement has already had "a fairly significant impact on Mr. Kenk's life."

His lawyer, Lon Rose, countered that Kenk should be given his day in court so his name can be cleared of the assault allegations. They related to a Dec. 14, 2008, incident in which Kenk was accused of attacking with a pipe the owners of a garage he was renting.

Mr. Rose says that in December 2008, on bail while awaiting a trial on bike theft charges, Kenk drove to a garage he had rented on Dufferin Street, north of Bloor Street, to pick up his belongings before his rental agreement expired.

An argument ensued with Tanveer Abbas and his sister, Asia Bibi-- co-owners of the house -- and Kenk was arrested later that day and charged with assault. Mr. Rose suggested it was the property owners who confronted Kenk.

Contacted yesterday, members of the Abbas family said they hadn't been told the charges against Kenk had been stayed. The Attorney-General's office has one year to reactivate the charges before they are cleared from Kenk's record.

The compelling story of Kenk has riveted the city since his Queen Street West bicycle repair shop was raided in the summer of 2008, ultimately leading to the seizure of thousands of bikes and a quantity of drugs, from garages and storage units rented in his name.

Kenk was notorious in the neighbourhood before the raid, and residents cheered as police cleaned out his Bicycle Clinic on the evening of July 17, 2008. Police displayed the bikes for more than a month, with 582 being reclaimed by their owners.

Yvonne Bambrick, director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, said the high-profile nature of the case was a watershed moment in how the city saw cycling.

"The fact that police really saw how much emotion came out of it, and how much interest there was both from the media and citizens. It really made the cycling issue more important overall," she said. "It was the importance of bikes in Toronto."

With time already served, Kenk is expected to be released by spring. As part of that deal, Kenk was forced to sell his Queen West property.

"Where are we next going to see Igor in this city?" asked Mr. Popack. "What is the next iteration of Igor going to be? This is a guy who is very compelling, and does have a very powerful personality. I don't think this is the last we have heard of Igor."



Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/toronto/story.html?id=2552832#ixzz0fJVTnW2H
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