A Vancouver man was found guilty of aggravated assault yesterday for sucker-punching a gay man and leaving him with severe brain damage.

Friends, family and supporters of Ritchie Dowrey, 62, cheered after the verdict. Shawn Woodward, 37, who testified he threw the punch after an unwanted sexual advance at the Fountainhead Pub in March 2009, showed no emotion as he left court.

“This individual walked into a (gay-friendly pub), knew where he was and yet he still chose to lash out the way he did,” said Lindsay Wincherauk, a friend of Dowrey.

B.C. provincial court Judge Jocelyn Palmer said Woodward’s claim of self-defence is false.

“There is no error in reality to the alleged sexual assault, it was a fabricated story by Mr. Woodward.”

She added his evidence was inconsistent and that Woodward influenced his friend’s testimony.

If the judge rules the attack a hate crime, sentencing will be more severe.

Woodward is not being held in jail.