Likely little-known to the rest of the world, many of us in Vancouver have been anxiously awaiting the court’s decision on a particularly horrendous case of gay bashing that occurred over a year ago on our in gayborhood on Davie Street at a clearly gay establishment: The Fountainhead Pub. That night, a 62-year-old gay male named Ritch Dowrey was reportedly celebrating his retirement at the Fountainhead and had offered to buy a 37-year-old construction worker named Shawn Woodward a drink or to play pool to which the straight construction worker declined saying he “wasn’t like that.”
As Dowrey resumed playing pool with his friends, Woodward came up and sucker punched him in the head with such force that it knocked out the 62-year-old man and left him with permanent “catastrophic injury to the brain.” As he left the Fountainhead (after walking over Dowrey’s passed out body), Woodward was heard saying the man deserved it for being a “faggot“. The victim now faces permanent mental and physical challenges from this awful attack. Clearly- to many of us- a case of gay bashing, the lawyers against and thousands of members of our community have been holding their breaths, awaiting the sentencing of Shawn Woodward for this deplorable act. A sentencing that arrived today.
Convicted of a gay-bashing assault, Woodward was sentenced Monday, November 8th by Justice Jocelyn Palmer for 6 years for what she called an act of violent homophobia. I’ve been told this is a total success! Admitting little knowledge concerning all things litigious and jail-related, I am relying on the fact that as the lawyers convicting Woodward had asked for 6 or 7 years, that getting the 6 is a credit to those seeking to let all those who would commit a hate crime know that Vancouver will not tolerate it.
Of course, Woodward had tried to establish that the gays around him that night didn’t affect him, but the Justice saw through his obvious attempt to lower his sentencing and actually said: “He has yet to express real remorse,” and that: “He has not acknowledged the harm done… or taken responsibility for his actions or despicable words.” I say good for you to the determined and clearly angered Justice Palmer: in an age when homophobia is still outrageously rampant throughout all societies, I’m glad to live in a city that at least has its judicial system standing up to those too dumb and too bigoted to see how wrong they are.
6 years will of course do nothing to fix any of the damages done to Rich Dowrey, but it’s set a standard of warning to possible future bashers that Vancouver won’t stand for it.