The world of Kitchener street gangs is rarely open to public view, but yesterday in court, a sickening picture of life on the streets was revealed. Prosecutor Andre Rajna described how several members of the Stick-Up Kids used a cheese grater to scrape off a gang tattoo from the hand of a member they thought had “ratted” on them.

Cheese Grater Used in Gang Tattoo Removal Attack

When the punishment became too much for Jamal White and he cried out, his tormenters duct-taped his hand to the edge of a chair to keep him from moving, Rajna said. “It was not a quick thing,” Rajna added.

Two gang members, Bradley Peltier and Shawn Keefe, were charged with aggravated assault for administering the gang justice to White. A similar charge was withdrawn yesterday against 19-year-old John Carter in return for Peltier’s guilty plea. Keefe’s case is still before the courts.

“Clearly, this is the sort of abhorrent conduct the court must respond to in an appropriate” way, Justice John Lynch said before sentencing Peltier to 23 months in jail.

Because he got double credit for the seven months he’d spent in pretrial custody, he has to spend nine more months in jail. Kitchener’s Ontario Court heard that all the men were living at a rooming house on Laurel Street in Waterloo last February. Rajna said White, who has a criminal record, “is no angel.” “There were concerns that Mr. White wasn’t keeping the confidences of the group,” Rajna said. Some people felt he was “talking too much.”

About six men had gathered in Keefe’s room to drink when discussion began about White’s allegiance to the gang. Keefe began hitting him, court heard. White was given two choices — fight them all or submit to having the tattoo removed, Rajna said. “It’s kind of like being taken to the edge of a cliff and being told, ‘Jump or we’re going to push you.”‘

Peltier was the one who had originally applied the tattoo between White’s thumb and forefinger, Rajna said. It consisted of the letters SUK. Originally, the plan was to take the tattoo off with a knife. But someone suggested a cheese grater. Peltier and Keefe took turns scraping the letters from White’s skin, Rajna said.

Outside court, Peltier’s first lawyer, Sean Safa, said White bit on a spoon while he was being disfigured. At some point, he was given vodka and when he cried out, the music was turned up, said Safa, who recently had to withdraw from the case.
Carter’s attackers made him stay in the room for some time after the torture ended.

The next day, Feb. 12, White went to Grand River Hospital. But he left when someone started asking too many questions, and went to an urgent care clinic where his wound was bandaged. Police heard about the incident from their contacts and approached White about it, Rajna said. He eventually decided to talk to them.

White has been friends with Peltier and Carter “for a long time,” said lawyer Wayne Rabley, who took over Peltier’s case. Rabley said White was “disappointed” that members of his supposed brotherhood had turned on him. Still, White went to live with Peltier and his girlfriend not long after the incident, Rabley said.

“They were buddies,” Rabley said outside court. “Jamal understood this was part of remaining on good terms with these guys.”

Peltier, 26, grew up in foster homes, Rabley told the court. He met his mother once but has never seen his father. He has a Grade 9 education. A teenager who can’t be named under terms of the Young Offenders Act received a 45-day jail sentence earlier this year for his involvement in the case.