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‘The beauty that I used to see is now all black’

Brazilian student Jose Neto calmly spoke in a Calgary courtroom yesterday about how his life irrevocably changed in an instant in September 2008 when he was hit by gunfire intended for a man involved in a drug deal.

Brazilian student Jose Neto calmly spoke in a Calgary courtroom yesterday about how his life irrevocably changed in an instant in September 2008 when he was hit by gunfire intended for a man involved in a drug deal.

The incident left Neto blinded.

“It is too hard for me to think that my life plans have been stolen from me from a simple action of pulling a trigger,” he said.

“The beauty that I used to see is now all black and dark.”

Roland Warawa has pleaded guilty to firing a handgun at a man he was trying to buy cocaine from and instead hitting Neto, who was sitting at least 40 metres away.

Neto, who was 24 at the time, said he felt stark terror and could hear his fiancée, Roberta Porto, screaming for help in Portuguese. He could feel blood on his face and was left “blind and desperate and not understanding what was happening.”

Neto and Porto spoke at a hearing to determine if Warawa should be named a dangerous offender.

Neto said he came to study in Calgary and chose Canada for its natural beauty and stable economy, he said, but also because it was known as a safe place to study.

Since the shooting, Neto has haltingly been rebuilding his life. He’s relearning to play drums and guitar and reminds himself frequently that he can’t expect too much too soon.

He and Porto are planning to marry in July and want to start a family. He said it’s hard knowing he will never again see her face.

“Nor will I ever see the face of my future kids or grandkids. This is a horrible pain that will never go away.”

Outside court, Neto said that he has forgiven Warawa.

“Whatever happens with him, whatever they decide to do, my life is going to be the same. He goes to jail. He’s going to be there forever or not. I’m going to be blind.”

 
 
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