A BC Supreme Court judge has ordered a family to pay the gay couple next door $15,000 in damages after finding that the family harassed the two men in the upscale Vancouver condo complex where they all lived.
Justice Doug Halfyard heard Patricia and Alexander Harrison made homophobic slurs against Rod Boggs and Bill Hart, made false accusations to the police, played annoyingly loud music, tried to instigate fistfights and threatened to kill their cat.
“I find that Mr Hart and Mr Boggs were seriously upset and deeply offended by most of the conduct of the defendants which I have found to be proved,” Halfyard ruled. “I find that the conduct of the defendants has interfered with the plaintiffs’ enjoyment of their residence and related property.”
He called the Harrison’s misconduct “severe.”
Halfyard found the incidents targeting Boggs and Hart occurred between June 2006 and October 2008.
Boggs and Hart have been together for 30 years and paid $900,000 for their South Granville condo in May 2006.
The Harrisons have lived there for 20 years.
Boggs and Hart alleged the Harrisons had mounted a campaign to force them to move out.
“The plaintiffs say that one of the defendant’s motives for seeking to drive them out was that the defendants strongly disapproved of homosexuality, and therefore resented the plaintiffs carrying on a gay relationship at Brighouse manor,” Halfyard’s Jun 15 decision says.
The Harrisons denied this.
Halfyard found that on at least two occasions the Harrisons confronted the gay couple on common property.
“On one of these occasions, Patricia Harrison said to Mr Boggs, in effect: ‘I know you hate me Rod, I know you want to hit me, go ahead and hit me.’” Halyard says.
Halfyard, however, says the credibility of the Harrisons was suspect.
He said Alexander Harrison could not produce a supposed file of incidents or audio recordings of confrontations he said he had. He also noted Alexander Harrison could not explain inconsistencies between issues heard in discovery hearings and in court.
“I have grave concerns about his honesty,” Halfyard says.
Patricia Harrison denied making homophobic slurs against Hart and Boggs.
She did agree she had said something like, “You two have ruined this place.”
However, Halfyard found she said to Hart when Boggs was nearby: “Well at least I am not getting fucked up the ass by my partner.”
Halfyard also found Alexander Harrison said to Hart: “How is your bum Bill? How is your rectum? Is it a bit sore lately?”
Halfyard also found Patricia Harrison did not make “a full and fair complaint” to police on Christmas Eve 2007 after she saw Boggs on the building’s front veranda.
Boggs had been picking up absent residents’ mail for them at the time.
She testified she thought Boggs was spying on them for burning wood in a stove.
“I would be reluctant to accept her testimony on any important fact in dispute, without confirmatory evidence,” Halfyard says.
Some incidents also involved the Harrisons’ then-15-year-old son, Carson.
He admitted he may have said something to Boggs and Hart about their cat but denied saying anything about killing it.
“He had admitted that some of his dislike of the plaintiffs was based on what his parents had told him about them,” Halfyard says.
Hart and Boggs admitted to responding to the harassment at times.
“Hart testified at trial that he had said unkind things to Patricia Harrison, such as calling her “a bitch,” a “liar” and “disgusting” but denied that he had ever called her “fat” to her face.
Hart also admitted that he had put signs up at Brighouse Manor which stated “the bull shit stops here.”
Halfyard said he generally accepted Hart and Boggs’ evidence.