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Ritchie Dowrey’s brother sees progress

Case among several alleged gaybashings working their way through courts

HOPEFUL SIGNS. 'I see progress every time I see him,' says Allan Dowrey, younger brother of Ritchie Dowrey (pictured) who was bashed at the Fountainhead Pub last March. Allan says it's encouraging to see 'the little baby steps.' Credit: COURTESY OF ALLAN DOWREY

The man bashed at the Fountainhead Pub last March has only marginally improved in the last 10 months, says his friend Lindsay Wincherauk.

Ritchie Dowrey was allegedly propelled backwards by a punch in the face Mar 13, knocking him to the ground where he hit his head and suffered severe brain damage.

“I glanced over and saw a clenched fist,” Wincherauk alleged a few days after the incident. “And the next thing I saw was Ritchie dropping like a board. There was this sickening thud.”

Shawn Woodward faces one charge of aggravated assault in connection with the incident. He goes to trial in July.

The attack left Dowrey in a coma for weeks at Vancouver General Hospital, where a spokesperson initially described his vital signs as unstable Mar 23. By April, he was conscious and speaking, if not lucid.

“It’s very encouraging,” Wincherauk said at the time. “It’s a long road ahead.”

Nine months later, the road ahead is unclear.

Although Wincherauk says Dowrey looks healthier, most conversation with him remains “nonsensical.”

Wincherauk last visited Dowrey, who now lives in a care home in Langley, on Dec 18. He says his friend looked healthy, had good skin colour, smiled and even showed some movement in his legs. But he couldn’t remember Wincherauk’s name.

“I feel happy that he’s not in pain,” Wincherauk says, “but there’s not much there.”

Dowrey, who turned 63 in October, is not really cognizant of what’s going on, Wincherauk says. He has no concept of time passing and forgets people’s visits from one day to the next.

“His improvement is very slow,” Wincherauk says, “marginal at best.”

Dowrey’s younger brother Allan is more hopeful. “I see progress every time I see him,” he says.

Allan says he caught a welcome glimpse of Ritch’s true personality over Christmas when he told his brother that he’d been lectured by their mother. “Uh oh,” Ritch said and chuckled. 

It’s hard to see his brother’s “immense capability being short-circuited,” Allan says, but it is encouraging to see “the little baby steps.”

In addition to the Ritchie Dowrey case, which goes to trial in July, a number of cases involving alleged gaybashings are working their way through the courts.

The man accused of breaking Jordan Smith’s jaw as he walked hand-in-hand with another man on Davie St in September 2008 will go to trial Apr 26-30.

In another case, a 17-year-old youth charged with assault causing bodily harm will make an appearance in youth court on Jan 13 in connection with an alleged gaybashing in December.

Billy, a 31-year-old gay man who would only give his first name, underwent surgery Dec 14 for a broken jaw after allegedly being called a fag and repeatedly punched and kicked as he left a house party at E 3rd and Commercial Dr. Vancouver Police Const Jana McGuinness says the incident was sent to the hate crime unit for investigation.

Crown counsel spokesperson Neil MacKenzie couldn’t say whether the Crown will seek a hate crime designation if the youth is convicted.

Meanwhile, Anthony Paul McDonald is scheduled to appear in provincial court Jan 18 for a bail hearing. McDonald is accused of meeting a 52-year-old man on a chatline, going to his East Vancouver apartment, sucker punching him, tying him to a chair and stealing his wallet, car keys and car, Aug 23, 2009.

“It looks like there have been a number of appearances, and at this point, he’s in custody,” MacKenzie notes.