3 min

Homo panic

'Mr Woodward has fabricated that story to justify his outrageous assault on Mr Dowrey': judge

 What was Shawn Woodward doing in a gay pub the night he destroyed Ritchie Dowrey’s life?

By his own admission, it was at least his second and possibly his third visit to the Fountainhead, a place he knew was frequented by gay people in a “predominantly gay and homosexual area.”

What drew him back to the pub on March 13, 2009? And why did he ask his friend Greg Price to take a bus, SkyTrain and cab to join him?

Was Woodward looking to prove something that night? Perhaps to himself? Did he succeed?

Why did he linger for 20 minutes after Dowrey began making him uncomfortable with his alleged attention? Why did he deliberately choose an exit route that led him right past the man he claimed was making him uncomfortable?

And what was he really referring to when he asked Price, “Are you okay with that?”

Price maintains his friend was asking if he was okay to leave the pub. I wonder if Woodward was asking if he’d object to the sucker-punch he planned to deliver on his way out the door.

Price certainly didn’t hesitate in his departure, even though his friend suddenly knocked a man unconscious. He told the court he didn’t see the punch and was shocked when it occurred, but video surveillance tapes show him looking directly at the assault and leaving immediately after without missing a beat.

“There must have been some conversation between Mr Price and Mr Woodward whereby Mr Price knew what Mr Woodward was going to do,” Crown counsel Jacinta Lawton said at trial.

There’s no direct evidence the punch was pre-planned, so I guess we’ll never know for sure.

What we do know is Dowrey grinned at Woodward as he approached and told him, “You’ll be back.”

What we also know is Woodward responded with a punch so powerful Dowrey has never been the same.

We also know Woodward tried to convince the court the punch was thrown in self-defence to ward off Dowrey’s fingers as they allegedly brushed his thigh and headed for his crotch.

And we know Woodward’s self-defence claim is crap.

Insulting, anachronistic crap. A throwback to the not-so-distant days when a homo panic defence justified any amount of beating because the “faggot touched me, he deserved it.”

Sound familiar?

Judge Jocelyn Palmer didn’t buy it.

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

Palmer pointed to Woodward’s willingness to embellish his evidence as he testified — like a hand on his shoulder becoming a squeeze, and a hand sliding towards his crotch becoming an actual crotch-touch.

None of which constitutes anything more than a self-serving, unbelievable claim of self-defence, the judge found.

Palmer didn’t doubt Woodward’s claim that he felt horrified when he discovered the extent of Dowrey’s injuries. Horror is a mixture of loathing and fear, she explained. In this case, “the loathing was for Mr Dowrey and the fear was for himself” when Woodward realized what he had done.

“I find there is no air of reality to Mr Woodward’s evidence about the alleged sexual assault,” Palmer ruled, dismissing Woodward’s attempt to blame his victim for his own violence. “Mr Woodward has fabricated that story to justify his outrageous assault on Mr Dowrey.”

Woodward was offended by Dowrey’s suggestion that he was gay and walked directly towards him to prove his manhood, the judge ruled.

It was all I could do not to gasp out loud.

In that moment, as I watched Woodward’s lawyer lean his head dejectedly against his hand, I sensed a shift in our justice system.

A judge willing to find the accused loathed his gay victim and wanted to prove his manhood? Willing to find the self-defence claim was fabricated to justify an “outrageous assault” — an assault motivated but not justified by an objection to being considered gay?

It has yet to be seen if the Crown seeks a hate crime designation at sentencing, but if her performance to date on this case is any indication, she will.

And if the judge’s verdict means anything, she’ll grant it.

She’s practically there already.