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Gaybasher appeals his sentence

Woodward says judge placed too much weight on hate

"I find Mr Woodward is prepared to deny, deflect and dissemble," Judge Jocelyn Palmer ruled. Woodward's lawyer is now appealing, saying the judge placed unwarranted emphasis on his client's lack of credibility. Credit: Shimon Karmel photo

The man found guilty of gaybashing Ritchie Dowrey at the Fountainhead Pub in Vancouver is appealing his six-year sentence.

Shawn Woodward is currently being held at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam.

Dowrey lives in a care home because he can no longer live independently.

A provincial court judge convicted Woodward and designated his assault a hate crime on Nov 8, the second such designation to be granted in Vancouver in 2010.

Michael Kandola’s attack on Jordan Smith was also designated a hate crime in April, when he was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Kandola, too, filed a notice of appeal but, according to the BC Court of Appeal registry, that appeal was abandoned on Nov 2.

Woodward’s appeal was filed on Nov 15 by lawyer Joel Whysall, who represented him at trial.

Woodward’s appeal relies on four points.

First, that Judge Jocelyn Palmer placed more emphasis on the aggravating factor of bias, prejudice or hate than was warranted.

“I see no other possible explanation for Mr Woodward’s behaviour than virulent homophobia,” Palmer ruled in passing sentence.

Woodward had told the court that Dowrey offered to buy him a drink, touched him on the shoulder and later put his arm around him before grazing his thigh.

“He’s a faggot. He deserved it. The faggot touched me. He deserved it,” Woodward told multiple witnesses while being detained for police.

Whysall also says the judge placed unwarranted emphasis on Woodward’s lack of credibility.

Palmer ruled Woodward embellished or adjusted his evidence at various times.

“I did not find Mr Woodward to be a credible witness,” she said in her decision. “I did not believe his evidence.

“I find Mr Woodward is prepared to deny, deflect and dissemble.”

The appeal also argues that the judge erred by unduly focusing on the nature of the injuries sustained rather than the nature of the assault.

Palmer said in her decision that medical evidence showed Dowrey sustained a skull fracture from the punch. Other injuries, which the court heard earlier, included a shifting of the brain and bleeding in the skull.

The fourth point of appeal is that the judge erred in not attributing enough credit to Woodward’s lack of criminal history and the fact he was being sentenced to jail for the first time.

In sentencing proceedings, Palmer questioned Whysall for making a similar assertion.

She noted the court had already heard Woodward had a conviction for drunk driving and had been addicted to crack cocaine.