Ralph Mackay Fraser has been ordered to pay $226,000 in compensation to a man he sucker-punched in 2008. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Ralph Mackay Fraser has been ordered to pay $226,000 in compensation to a man he sucker-punched in 2008. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Drunken sucker punch costs B.C. teacher $226,000

‘Thoroughly disgraceful incident’ in 2008 left hotel security guard permanently injured

A school teacher is out more than $200,000 following a civil judgment relating to an unprovoked assault more than 13 years ago.

Ralph Mackay Fraser, who taught at Shawnigan Lake School at the time, is on the hook for $226,000 for sucker-punching a security guard at a Vancouver hotel on Feb. 17, 2008 in an unprovoked attack that derailed the young man’s hopes of becoming an RCMP officer. The civil case was decided on March 26, 2021.

Fraser, who is still employed by the school, had attended a banquet earlier that evening where he had too much to drink, in the words of Justice Robin Baird. He and several other people, including Shawnigan’s headmaster at the time, went to the lounge at the Pan Pacific Hotel after the banquet, and Fraser ended up in an argument with some other patrons that led to a scuffle.

RELATED: Nanaimo man’s $32-trillion lawsuit thrown out by B.C. Supreme Court

RELATED: B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

The security guard, Andrew Thompson, responded to a call from the bar staff, and was escorting Fraser out when Fraser punched Thompson in the face, causing severe and permanent damage to the bones around his left eye. Fraser tried to flee the scene, but was stopped by hotel staff, who held him until police arrived.

Fraser was charged with assault causing bodily harm, and later pleaded guilty in criminal court. Although the charge carries a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, Fraser was given a conditional discharge.

“He was dealt with extremely leniently,” Baird said in his judgment. “Part of the reason for this, I have no doubt, was the understanding that eventually he would have to answer for his misconduct in a civil lawsuit and, in all likelihood, pay the plaintiff a sizeable sum in damages.”

Thompson, who was 21 at the time of the incident, underwent emergency surgery that resulted in metallic gear being fused to his facial bones, causing him significant pain and discomfort when it is cold outside. He also has a screw directly beneath his left eye that he can feel with his finder and causes pain on incidental contact.

Thompson had to abandon his goal of becoming an RCMP officer, which Baird found to be “eminently achievable” if not for the incident with Fraser.

“The plaintiff impressed me as a highly intelligent, hard-working, disciplined and honest person,” Baird wrote. “Prior to the incident he was in excellent physical health. He was a world class athlete who represented Canada on multiple occasions at international karate competitions.”

Thompson instead attended a university in New York for training in criminal justice issues and landed a job as an investigator with a New York law firm, where he makes more money than he would have as an RCMP officer, as Baird acknowledged.

“Money is not the most important thing in the plaintiff’s life, however,” the judge noted. “He wanted to serve and protect the public as a peace officer. He testified that, if his facial injury could be magically healed, and the hardware in his facial bones could be removed, he would submit another application for RCMP recruitment immediately. His present employment is satisfactory, but it is not what he wanted to do with his life. To this day he feels a keen regret and even bitterness about this. I do not blame him.”

Thompson asked for $50,000 in non-pecuniary damages and $6,329.60 to make up for the two months in 2008 when he was unable to work. Baird granted the $50,000 as well as $10,000 in aggravated damages, and awarded Thompson $166,000 for lost wages between 2011 and 2017, assuming that he would have been recruited by the RCMP.

Baird acknowledged Fraser’s employment at a prestigious private school in his judgment.

“This was, in short, a thoroughly disgraceful incident,” he stated. “If the defendant is a person of any conscience, he will be immobilised by shame every time he thinks of it. I would emphasise that [Thompson] was barely older than the students, most of them full-time boarders, who are committed by their parents to the defendant’s care every day of the school year. I am amazed that he was not fired from his employment.”

Richard Lamont, who has been headmaster at Shawnigan since 2018, issued a brief statement about Fraser.

“The 2008 incident did not happen on school property and did not involve any of our students,” Lamont said. “Regardless, it is troubling. The school is deeply committed to the safety and wellbeing of its students, and we take any matter involving the conduct of a staff member extremely seriously.”

Fraser expressed his feelings in a message to the school community.

“Some of you will know of the unfortunate event of 2008,” he said. “It was resolved by the courts, the Ministry for Public Safety, BC College of Teachers and the School administration at the time. Since the event, I have felt deep remorse and will continue to do so for the rest of my career.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Court

Just Posted

Tents set up under the Trail Skywalk earlier this spring. Photo: Trail Times
Message from Concerned Trail Citizens: ‘A Necessary Response’

” … if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.”

“Think on These Things” is a column written by retired Creston pastor Ian Cotton. (File photo)
Think on These Things: Everyone is Invited

“Tell them there is healing, cleansing for every soul…”

Swiss guard at Vatican City. The Pontifical Swiss Guard is a minor armed forces and honour guards unit maintained by the Holy See that protects the Pope and the Apostolic Palace, serving as the de facto military of Vatican City. Photo: Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
News from The Vatican

Pope Francis issued a law decreeing that women can be installed in the lay ministries of lectors

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Student-nurse Kendra Waterstreet administers the Pfizer vaccine to Litia Fleming at the Waneta Plaza vaccination clinic in the old Zellers buiding. Photo: Jim Bailey
Trail vaccination clinic readies for adults age 40+

B.C.’s state of emergency is extended through the end of day on May 25

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Most Read