02/02/2015 11:11 EST | Updated 04/04/2015 05:59 EDT

Richard Dowrey, gay-bashing victim at Fountainhead Pub in 2009, dead

Richard Dowrey, the victim of a gay-bashing incident at a West End pub in 2009, died this weekend.

In March 2009, Dowrey went to the Fountainhead Pub to celebrate his retirement. He was punched without warning and left with permanent, profound brain damage. The court ruled that he was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

"He's never been the same person since the attack and never would be again," said Brian Wawryhsyn, a friend of Dowrey's.

Wawryhsyn described Dowrey as a kind, carefree man who was always encouraging his friends. He loved boating and sports, the BC Lions in particular — he went to almost every game.

After the attack, Dowrey lived in care facilities. Wawryhsyn visited him for several years, but he said Dowrey couldn't recognize any of his old friends and he never regained the use of his legs.

Dowrey's attacker, Shawn Woodward, was convicted of aggravated assault in 2010 and sentenced to six years.  He was released on parole in May 2013.

Jennifer Breakspear, former executive director of Qmunity, a LGBT resource centre, said the case still resonates within the community.

"This man's life was completely altered and well cut short by this brutal attack," said Breakspear. "That that would only merit three years in prison is appalling."

To listen to the full interview with Rich Dowrey's friend Brian Wawryhsyn, click on the audio labelled Rich Dowrey, gay-bashing victim at Fountainhead Pub, remembered by friend.