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Fans but no pop star at Bieber court hearing

Fans but no pop star at Bieber court hearingJustin Bieber's lawyer Brian Greenspan talks to media outside court as Bieber fans look on in Toronto on Monday March 10, 2014. The pop star faces assault charges relating to an alleged incident involving a limo driver in December of last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO - About two dozen Justin Bieber fans were left heartbroken at a Toronto courthouse Monday when the teen heartthrob did not show up for his first court date for an assault charge.

Bieber wasn't required to appear, as his lawyer was there in his place. Various court officials explained to the small legion of girls lining up outside the courtroom that the pop star wasn't there, but that didn't dissuade the Beliebers.

Court staff might be lying, the fans explained.

The court hearing was over almost as soon as it began, with the Crown providing disclosure to Bieber's lawyer, Brian Greenspan, and setting the next date as April 14.

The Crown has decided to proceed summarily, which is akin to a misdemeanour, Greenspan said. There are independent witnesses who say Bieber "was not engaged in any wrongdoing," Greenspan said.

Bieber will not be in court then either, he said, or at all until a trial date, which likely won't be until the fall. The veteran defence lawyer said he had only seen that many spectators attend a routine date setting in court once before.

"Last time was Naomi Campbell on a common assault about 15 years ago," he said outside court. "I have the fear that my legacy will be two common assault trials."

Greenspan has often answered reporters' questions on the steps of the Old City Hall courthouse, but he usually is not surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls snapping pictures on their smartphones.

"Tell Justin I love him," 13-year-old Kristyn shouted at the end of the scrum. Greenspan replied that he would not.

Kristyn said later that Bieber is her idol and she wanted to come to court even though her mother told her the singer didn't know she existed. When someone suggested Bieber would since she spoke to reporters about him, Kristyn gasped then choked up and tears welled in her eyes.

Many of the girls said they had heard Bieber wouldn't be in court, but held onto a glimmer of hope that maybe the 20-year-old superstar would show.

"We were hoping to see him like and meet him, I don't know," said 15-year-old Roxy. "We really like him. Like, he's like perfect."

Another common theme among the Beliebers was that the media blows stories about him out of proportion, so they wanted to see the court appearance for themselves. If he did assault someone they don't necessarily condone it, they said, but how do they know it really happened?

"He should like learn from his mistakes, but at the same time, like, he's like young still and he just like, there's a lot of pressure like on him right now and like, I just like, I just think people should just like back off," said Roxy.

"Like, it's just too much for him."

Police allege Bieber hit a limousine driver several times in the back of the head after he and five others were picked up by a limo in the early hours of Dec. 30.

Bieber turned himself in to Toronto police in January to face the charge, drawing a crowd of jostling journalists and deliriously screaming fans.

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