Surrey bowling alley owner gets 45 weekends in jail for groping teen girl

SURREY — A Surrey bowling alley owner who groped a teenage girl will spend the next 45 weekends in jail.

Thomas Charles Cooper, 43, pleaded guilty in April to sexual interference and was sentenced on Friday in B.C. Provincial Court in Surrey.

In February 2013 while at Dell Lanes on King George Boulevard, Cooper gave a 15-year-old girl a shoulder massage, which progressed into fondling her breasts. The incident ended when someone else entered the room.

In her reasons for judgment, Judge Andrea Brownstone said the girl has been negatively affected by what happened.

“She has suffered emotionally as a result of this,” Brownstone said.

When given a chance to address the court, Cooper expressed regret for his actions.

“I am truly sorry for what has happened,” he said.

Crown and defence made a joint submission for a 90-day jail sentence — the mandatory minimum for the offence. Crown asked for a three-year probation term, while the defence suggested two years. The defence also asked that the jail time be served intermittently so that Cooper could continue to run his business.

Brownstone said she thought the mandatory minimum sentence was appropriate, seeing as Cooper is considered a very low risk to reoffend and his behaviour seems to have been out of character for him.

“I accept he does feel remorse and does accept the gravity of what he’s done,” Brownstone said.

She imposed a two-year probation term.

Conditions of Cooper’s probation include taking counselling as directed (including sex offender counselling); not being in the presence of anyone under 16 unless there is another adult present; not being in the presence of any bowling alley employee under the age of 18 unless there is another adult present; having no text or electronic contact with anyone under the age of 18; and not being anywhere someone under the age of 18 is expected to be present — such as a park, swimming pool or community centre — except Dell Lanes if an approved member of his family is there.

Cooper will be subject to his probation conditions while he is serving his intermittent sentence. He was taken into custody on Friday to begin his first weekend in jail.

For more stories from The Province, click here.