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

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

Two teen boys admitted to playing with a lighter for the April 16 wildfire in Oliver. (Lynda Shoemaker photo Facebook)
Two youths admit to causing grass fire in Oliver

That same night a 26-year-old man was arrested for deliberately setting a field on fire

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

Abandoned Rail Brewing Company, located at 1220 Davenport Ave. on the KVR trail, has applied to the City of Penticton for a manufacturing facility and lounge endorsement. The city will review the application in their April 20, 2021 council meeting. (City of Penticton photo)
Penticton could be getting a new brewery on the KVR trail

The patio would seat up to 113 just 10 feet from the trail

courts
Penticton man guilty of assaulting young boys

Bryan Lamb was found guilty of two counts of assault

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
‘Do not occupy’ order lifted, residents of West Kelowna apartment allowed to return home

The building was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a strange smell

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter team was asked to be on standby to rescue a missing hiker in Naramata. (Air Rescue One/VSAR photo)
Lost hiker rescued in Okanagan Mountain Park

COSAR, PENSAR, and VSAR worked together to rescue a hiker in Okanagan Mountain Park

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Increased COVID-19 activity brings vaccine clinic to Enderby

Registration opens Tuesday, April 20 for May clinic for anyone over the age of 18

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Most Read