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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Carter Spring
Dynamiter’s Spring ready for next challenge with Ice Wolves

Submitted by EMANUEL SEQUIERA Kimberley Dynamiter Carter Spring is ready to make… Continue reading

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2017. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
UPDATED: Sinixt win historic decision at Supreme Court of Canada

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

Mark Skage and his son Mica during the filming of a West Kootenay episode of Start ‘em Young. Photo: Submitted
TV show films West Kootenay hunting trip

Start ‘Em Young aims to encourage kids to get out in the wilderness

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

The Sandhill Cranes had been feeding in a slough near the railway tracks and took flight when were disturbed by atrain. Bob Whetham photo
Urban wildlife Part X: The Kootenay birds of 2021

The work of local photographers in the Kootenay Advertiser in 2021. Part X. With links to Parts I-IX

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Most Read