More than a decade after a grown man orchestrated the savage beating of a 14-year-old boy as revenge for a “high-school spat” with his son, a B.C. judge has awarded the victim nearly $500,000.
The attack and the criminal case that followed — in which the man was convicted of assault and sentenced to six months in jail — have never been reported.
But the details are spelled out in a B.C. Supreme Court judgment last week that followed years of legal wrangling.
According to Justice Paul Walker’s decision, the then-45-year-old man — known by the initials MT — followed the victim, RS, off the grounds of his Delta high school one afternoon in April 2009.
MT was in a truck. One son was in the front seat and two adult males were in the back, holding metal batons.
In the days before, RS had punched MT’s younger son in the face after the other boy claimed he had kissed RS’s girlfriend and the two had traded insults.
Now, seeing the teen, MT brought his truck to a screeching halt.
“[MT] turned his head to the backseat and said something like ‘Go get ’em,’ ” the ruling says.
“The two males caught up to RS, who had tripped and fallen, and they began to strike RS with the baton and their fists.”
‘Are we all even now?’
The judgment says staff at the high school “freaked out” at the time.
MT was charged with assault causing bodily harm for directing the attack on RS and for head-butting a bystander who appeared ready to intervene.
A publication ban on the criminal case prevents the naming of any of the young people, although the Supreme Court ruling names both the victim and the attacker.
The most recent court ruling claims that as the beating began, MT told the two men wielding the batons to let his older son “get in there.”
“He uttered words of encouragement,” the judgment says. “And he also said, ‘This is what you get,’ obviously directed at RS.”
At the end of the attack, MT walked over to RS and put his arm around the Grade 9 student’s shoulder, asking, “Are we all even now?”
RS angrily said, “No,” the judgment says.
Those events would be replayed in a courtroom in recent months as MT — who represented himself — had a chance to cross-examine RS.
RS’s mother launched the suit seeking damages from MT on her son’s behalf while RS was still a youth. Now 26, RS claims that the psychological and physical scars from the attack continue to follow him.
He claims he is anxious and hyper-vigilant, and that he suffers from migraines. He has worked in construction but believes that had it not been for the attack, he could have pursued a career in carpentry, like his grandfather.
Walker noted that RS “was clearly distressed in having to face questions directly from” MT. The ruling recounts in detail the uncomfortable confrontation that followed.
MT tried to suggest that instead of asking whether he and RS were “even” following the attack, he had asked RS if he was “OK.”
“Is it possible?” MT asked.
“No,” RS responded.
RS continued: “And if you did — which — that was not what I recall, it was in an extremely belittling manner. You were trying to assert dominance is what I felt, over a 14-year-old boy.”
“Can you tell me exactly why you believe that?” MT asked.
“Yeah, your demeanour and the fact that you had [brought] you know, assailants to beat me with batons at my school, a place where I’m supposed to feel safe.”
MT didn’t deny that RS suffered a concussion, black eyes and a fractured nose.
But he argued that those injuries weren’t the cause of RS’s ongoing problems. At an earlier point, MT also attempted to argue that because he never touched RS himself, he couldn’t be held liable for battery.
But Walker said he accepted RS’s evidence that the attack was “etched in his memory.”
“His psychological symptoms are akin to PTSD,” the ruling says. “His physical and psychological injuries have affected all aspects of his life.”
The judge ordered MT to pay RS more than $479,000 for the injuries he suffered, including damages for loss of past earning capacity and future earning capacity, as well as general damages and the cost of future care.
The award also included $35,000 in aggravated damages “to reflect the natural indignation of right-thinking people for [MT’s] senseless and outrageous conduct.”