Vancouver man who delivered blinding sucker punch to Good Samaritan jailed two years

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JENNIFER SALTMAN
VANCOUVER DESI 

A sucker punch that partially blinded a Good Samaritan who was trying to defuse a potentially violent confrontation between two groups of men has landed a Vancouver man in jail for two years.

Premjit Rai, 24, was convicted by a jury in May of aggravated assault. He was sentenced late last month in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver and a written decision was released Friday.

Early on March 13, 2011, Rai was celebrating his birthday with friends at Caprice Nightclub in the Granville Entertainment District. Rai had too much to drink and became aggressive, and his group of friends got into an argument with another group of people.

Eric Fair first saw the two groups of men screaming at each other and posturing near Forum Sports Bar, but he left it to the doorman to handle the situation and continued walking toward Champion Pizza.

As he waited for his food at the pizza place, Fair noticed that the two groups of men had moved their disagreement to the street in front of the restaurant.

Fair, who had worked as a doorman in the past, became concerned for the safety of people around and decided to intervene and try to calm down the men. He asked them to go home and “call it a day.”

As Fair was talking to one of the men, Rai threw a “haymaker” sucker punch and hit Fair in the head.

“The punch was strong enough that Mr. Fair believed his left eye had ‘exploded,’” Justice Patrice Abrioux wrote in his decision, calling the punch “an unnecessary and gratuitous use of force.”

Fair was taken to hospital and had two operations on his left eye, which had ruptured. His vision could not be restored and he is now permanently blind in his left eye.

Two-and-a-half years later, he continues to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, has difficulty sleeping, experiences nightmares and attends counselling.

“The injuries sustained by Mr. Fair are significant and permanent. They are not only physical but psychological as well. They will affect him indefinitely,” Abrioux wrote.

According to a pre-sentence report, Rai takes full responsibility for his actions, which he attributed to excessive alcohol consumption. Rai stopped drinking in October 2012, but not before breaching his bail condition to not consume alcohol. He was sentenced to one day in custody for the breach and fined $250.

“In his statement to the court before sentencing, Mr. Rai expressed considerable and unequivocal remorse for his behaviour. I accept his statement as a genuine reflection of his feelings,” Abrioux wrote.

After he is released from jail, Rai will be on probation for three years. During that time, he must abstain from alcohol or drugs and will be prohibited from entering the Granville Street entertainment district between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Rai must also pay Fair $18,483 for medical expenses he has incurred since the incident.

jensaltman@theprovince.com
twitter.com/jensaltman

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