A Vancouver construction worker was sentenced to six years in prison on Monday for aggravated assault against a gay man.
In the sentencing, Judge Jocelyn Palmer described 37-year-old Shawn Woodward’s actions as being motivated by “virulent homophobia.” She added he showed no remorse and failed to accept responsibility for his actions.
The judge cited Woodward’s friends as saying he was a man “capable of compassion,” and that his attack against the victim was out of character. They added that his current state of depression was an “expression of (his) regret and remorse” for his actions against Dowrey.
An allegedly gay friend of Woodward’s was cited saying that in their four years of friendship, Woodward was always a “fine example of an upstanding and productive member of society.”
Woodward’s history included an addiction to cocaine as well as incidents of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Friends and family of Ritchie Dowrey, 62, celebrated outside the courtroom after the sentencing, satisfied with the judge’s ruling.
Close friend and witness to the attack, Lindsay Wincherauk described Dowrey as being “super happy (and) fun-loving” prior to the attack.
He said Dowrey “has no recollection of today, yesterday, or years before. He’s happy to see you but he’s not the same person… it’s as if he kind of died on that day. There’s a new Ritchie but he’s not the same.”
Supporter of the gay community, Jennifer Breakspear said she hoped this ruling would help the Crown take hate crimes against the community more seriously.
“If any good comes of this, (hopefully) people will think twice before acting out of hatred against (the LGBT) community," she said.
Dowrey was attacked at the Fountainhead Pub on Davie Street on Mar. 13, 2009 while he was celebrating his retirement. He was violently knocked to the ground after Woodward punched him in the head. The assault left him with a permanent brain injury, and he is said to require intensive care for the rest of his life.
Woodward previously claimed that Dowrey had made several unwanted advances towards him including one incident where he said Dowrey grabbed his crotch, motivating his attack.
Woodward was also sentenced with a prohibition against firearms.