A man who was charged with disturbing the peace after an alleged incident involving a Guardian journalist outside a courthouse in Charlottetown says he was trying to block the journalist from getting a picture of his son.
Noel Ayangma appeared before Chief Judge John Douglas in provincial court Monday for trial after he previously pleaded not guilty last month to disturbing the peace.
The charge stemmed from an incident outside the P.E.I. Supreme Court on Feb. 4 after Ayangma attended a show cause hearing for his son, who was arrested as part of the Operation Clean Sweep drug investigation.
His son was released and the Guardian journalist was at the courthouse to get a picture of him as he left the building.
The journalist testified she was waiting inside the courthouse for Ayangma’s son to be released and when she saw him leaving she went out a different door to get a picture of him. She said while they were outside Ayangma was yelling as he approached her, saying she had no right to take his son’s picture.
Ayangma was close enough to brush against her and moved to block her every time she tried to go around him, she said.
“He was extremely angry voice and his face was extremely angry and he was using his arms to gesture.”
The journalist testified she yelled for Ayangma to leave her alone and eventually called out for help, which she got from a bystander.
During her testimony, she said Ayangma wasn’t letting her do what she was there to do and she didn’t know if he might hit her.
“I was scared,” she said.
She also said he wasn’t rough or violent with her but was a very big man and she felt intimidated.
Ayangma later told the court he was about six foot two inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds.
He testified that he saw the journalist inside the courthouse and suspected she would try to take his son’s picture. He said he told his son to leave through a side door and go in the opposite direction from him so the journalist wouldn’t be able to take his picture.
Ayangma testified he was walking to where his car was parked when he saw the journalist coming toward him so he moved in front of her and told her she wasn’t going to take his son’s picture.
“I never yelled. I never raised my voice,” he said.
He also denied making any contact with the journalist.
Ayangma said she had no right to go after people who were released from custody and had no justification in going there to take his son’s picture.
The incident was caught on surveillance video, although it didn’t include audio.
The court also heard from the bystander who was outside the courthouse on his way to pay a ticket and heard Ayangma yelling at the journalist about not taking pictures.
“He was pretty mad,” the bystander said.
He also testified the journalist seemed scared.
Deputy sheriff Mike Hunter testified and said he didn’t witness the incident because he was inside the courthouse but heard yelling through a garage door. By the time he got outside Ayangma and the journalist were separated.
The trial was adjourned Monday and Ayangma plans to call two witnesses when it resumes May 21.