A B.C. Supreme Court justice has awarded a Port Alberni man $132,000 in damages after he was brutally assaulted in his own bed in March 2007.
Justice Bruce Greyell made the award at the conclusion of a civil court action that Dale William Thornber, now 50, launched against his attacker, Charles William Campbell.
Campbell was convicted in criminal court of assault causing bodily harm, for which he was sentenced in May 2009 to 18 months' imprisonment.
The settlement means nothing, said Thornber on Tuesday, adding he doesn't expect to see a penny.
"My life is destroyed," he said. "The reason I sued is at least I did something to somewhat end this. I won, not him."
Thornber was the victim of "a brutal and unprovoked assault," said Greyell in his decision, released Tuesday.
Thornber was sleeping in his bed while a party took place in another part of the Port Alberni house.
Campbell entered Thornber's room, straddled him and punched him repeatedly in the face. He then left the room only to return later and continue the assault.
Thornber suffered a concussion and several jaw fractures. He had damage to 14 teeth, and six months later, could eat only liquid food. It was a year before he could eat semi-solid food.
The most traumatic, lingering effect of the assault is depression and anxiety that sparked nightmares and flashbacks, Greyell said. The violence has exacerbated anxiety stemming from childhood abuse.
Friends and family testified to the effect the assault had on Thornber's personality. Greyell recalled the testimony of one of Thornber's friends, who said "she had never seen a person change so drastically - [Thornber] became withdrawn, had difficulty speaking, often cried and he secluded himself for lengthy periods of time."
While Campbell served six months of his 18-month sentence behind bars, Thornber said he will spend a lifetime dealing with the pain of his injuries.
"I've got a lifelong battle to deal with. I get these wicked headaches that come out of the middle of nowhere," he said.
"I couldn't speak properly for six months [after the attack]. I couldn't eat for six months. I stuttered for another nine months."
Thornber, who is divorced and has a son, said he used to work 16 hours a day as a carpenter and handyman.
"What I do now is one day at a time - the only thing I've got is one day," he said.
Thornber, who has no criminal record and quit drinking 26 years ago, feels the system has let him down.
"Nobody will help me because I look great. They say, 'You look fine!' I definitely do look fine, but I have this rage inside of me."
He is grateful for the support of is lawyer, Charles Beckingham, who took on his case on a pro bono basis.
The court decision this week has brought all his pain back to the surface,Thornber said. "It's like it just happened. I've no idea where my future is going," he said. "It doesn't look very good now."
Thornber can't work because the brain injury means he can't hold a regular job. "It's the most horrible thing I've ever been through. Nobody can comprehend what happened to me."
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