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Fountainhead gaybasher out on parole

While Ritchie Dowrey still lives in a care facility

Shawn Woodward (above) is out on parole, less than two years after he was sentenced to six years in prison for gaybashing Ritchie Dowrey at the Fountainhead Pub. Credit: Shimon Karmel photo

As Ritchie Dowrey continues to make slow progress recovering from his 2009 gaybashing at the Fountainhead Pub on Davie St, the man convicted of his attack is now living in a halfway house in North Vancouver.

Provincial Court Judge Jocelyn Palmer ruled Nov 8, 2010, that Shawn Woodward’s powerful punch to Ritchie Dowrey’s head was a hate-motivated crime. “I see no other possible explanation for Mr Woodward’s behaviour than virulent homophobia,” Palmer said, as she sentenced Woodward to six years in prison.

Friend Lindsay Wincherauk says Dowrey remains in a care facility in Burnaby. He is unlikely to ever live independently again.

“Woodward does minimum security for a hate crime and does a year and a bit,” Wincherauk says. “Ritchie gets to be in a care facility for the rest of his life. It’s not fair.”

Wincherauk says Dowrey remains in good spirits but still has no memory of the attack and does not know who Wincherauk is, other than recognizing him as a friend. “He’s still the same smiling Ritchie, [but] he has no concept of time. If he had any concept of any of this, it would be sheer and utter torture for him. There’s an indication of quality of life.”

“He has been robbed and his family punished for no reason,” Wincherauk says.

Brother Allan Dowrey says Ritchie has been undergoing treatments for his feet and knees, but his mobility remains limited. Once an avid golfer, he now uses a walker.

Ritchie is a grandfather now, Allan adds.

“He gets to see [his grandchild] and enjoy it, but it will never be what it should be,” Wincherauk says.

Parole Board of Canada (PBC) documents say Woodward is living at a halfway house, where he must meet conditions under supervision of a parole officer.

By law, Woodward was allowed to apply for day parole, which was granted at a June 5 hearing. He is not allowed to have drugs or alcohol or to be near bars. He is to have no contact with Dowrey’s family.

According to PBC documents, while in jail Woodward acknowledged having a substance abuse problem and is accepting help for it as per board conditions. “You become impulsive when you drink alcohol and have problems controlling your temper,” the board noted. PBC documents also show Woodward wants to become a drug and alcohol counsellor.

The parole board found Woodward’s “thinking pattern toward gay men may have contributed” to his crime.

“You have difficulty linking your actions to consequences and your ability to generate pro-social choices is limited,” the board said.

But, the board found, Woodward has since challenged his  “harmful beliefs” appropriately. “You expressed genuine remorse for your victim and people in general,” the board decided. “You acknowledged that you made hateful homophobic remarks about the victim.”

The board also noted that Woodward admitted having emotional issues. The board said mandatory counselling would assist him.

A Parole Board of Canada communications officer told Xtra that “the risk to the public would be manageable if this offender was released on day parole.”

Woodward is eligible for full parole under statutory release laws in November 2014.

Fountainhead manager Derek White is not impressed that Woodward is out of prison. He says he’ll call the police if Woodward ever shows up at the pub.

Three years ago, on the night of the attack, Woodward took a long route to leave the pub, deliberately passing by Dowrey, who had earlier offered to by him a drink.

Woodward cold-cocked Dowrey as he passed the pool table. Dowrey fell backwards, striking his head on a hard floor with a thud that reverberated throughout the pub.

Woodward stepped over Dowrey’s prone body and walked out the door. He was caught outside by pub patrons, including Wincherauk, who was the first to hear him say, “He’s a faggot. He deserved it. The faggot touched me. He deserved it.”

Dowrey fractured his skull and suffered “catastrophic” brain damage, the court heard.