Veteran B.C. teacher ordered to pay $226K in damages to man he sucker punched 13 years ago

British Columbia

In a civil ruling, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found that the assault by Ralph Mackay Fraser was a “profoundly painful, upsetting and life-changing incident,” which left security guard Andrew Thompson, then 21, with lifelong injuries.

A civil trial in B.C. Supreme Court has resulted in a $226,000 award against a teacher for injuries to a security guard he sucker punched while being escorted out of Vancouver's Pan Pacific Hotel in 2008.(David Horemans/CBC)

A veteran teacher at a Shawnigan Lake private boarding school on Vancouver Island has been ordered to pay $226,000 to a security guard he sucker punched over 13 years ago.

In a civil ruling, a B.C. Supreme Court judge found that the assault by Ralph Mackay Fraser was a "profoundly painful, upsetting and life-changing incident," which left the security guard, then 21, with lifelong injuries.

"This was, in short, a thoroughly disgraceful incident. If the defendant is a person of any conscience, he will be immobilized by shame every time he thinks of it," stated Justice Robin Baird in the March 2021 ruling.

Fraser, who pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in 2008 and received a conditional discharge, was in his 50s when he committed the offence.

Fraser was being escorted out of an event at the Pan Pacific hotel in Vancouver on Feb. 17, 2008, by 21-year-old security guard Andrew Thompson when he punched him in the face, permanently damaging the bony structure around Thompson's left eye.

The ruling states that Fraser had previously been involved in a scuffle at the hotel bar after drinking too much, and staff called security to remove him. He had been attending an event with a number of people, including the headmaster of Shawnigan Lake School.

Lifelong injuries and career dreams dashed

The assault left Thompson incapacitated for weeks and in need of emergency facial surgery, according to the ruling.

More than a decade later, he lives with metallic gear fused into his facial bones that causes him significant pain and discomfort when it is cold outside and a screw directly beneath his left eye that is painful to the touch.

In his ruling, Baird stated that Fraser was dealt with "extremely leniently" for an offence that is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

"I would emphasize that [Andrew 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," said the judge.

"I am amazed that he was not fired from his employment."

According to B.C.'s Teacher Regulation Branch, Fraser still holds a valid certificate of qualification and was only reprimanded for the assault in 2009 after admitting to "conduct unbecoming a member of the College."

Thompson, whose dreams of becoming an RCMP officer were scrapped by the sucker punch, was awarded $60,000 in compensation for damages and $166,000 for his loss of income earning capacity.

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