Cooper v. British Columbia (Liquor Control and Licensing Branch) was heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Cooper v. British Columbia (Liquor Control and Licensing Branch) was heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey business’s liquor licence renewed after rejection related to sex crime against teen

Court overturns denial after Thomas Cooper and Dell Lanes Ltd. launch appeal in Vancouver

A B.C. Appeal Court judge has order that a Surrey business’s liquor licences be renewed on conditions after the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch denied them based on a sex crime one of its owners pleaded guilty to in 2014.

Justice Mary Newbury decided on Dec. 27 to overturn the branch’s refusal after Thomas Cooper and Dell Lanes Ltd. launched an appeal heard in Vancouver on Nov. 20.

Appeal Court Justices David Harris and Barbara Fisher concurred.

The court heard Cooper holds just under 25 per cent of shares in Dell Lanes Ltd., which owns and operates a bowling alley, lounge and restaurant business in Whalley at 10576 King George Blvd. The business has been owned by the Cooper family for 15 years and members of the family work there.

The judges heard that in early 2013 Cooper was alone at the bowling alley with a 15-year-old girl and touched her breasts. A third person interupted this encounter, Cooper was charged, and he pleaded guilty to touching the body of a child under the age of 16 years for a sexual purpose. He was sentenced in August 2014 to 90 days in jail, served intermittently to permit him to continue working as a general manager of the business.

It was Cooper’s first criminal offence and a publication ban prohibits the publication of any evidence that could identify the victim.

READ ALSO: Appeal court raises Surrey man’s jail sentence to six months for assaulting cop

READ ALSO: Court date moved for Cloverdale pastor, wife accused of sexual assault

READ ALSO: Not-guilty verdict for ex-RCMP spokesperson Tim Shields

Surrey provincial court Judge Andrea Brownstone in 2014 received a psychiatric report on Cooper indicating him to be at a “very low risk to reoffend” and she found his crime appeared to be “out of character.”

Brownstone also ordered two years probation, which later was shortened by six weeks, during which Cooper was required to undergo counselling and not be in the presence of anyone under age 16 unless another adult is present, not to be in the presence of any Dell employee under 18 without another adult present, and not to communicate electronically or by text with anyone under 18 except for his daughter, if consenting.

He was also ordered not to attend certain public places where people under 18 might be, with the exception of the bowling alley “if one or more specified family members were present.” Cooper was also registered under the Sex Offence Information and Registration Act for a minimum of 10 years.

When the Dell’s liquor licence was up for renewal in 2014, Cooper ticked “yes” to the question, “Have you or any partner, shareholder or director of this establishment been convicted of a criminal offence within the past 12 months?”

The Liquor branch made further inquiries with Cooper on the matter and notified him in a letter that effective Oct. 6, 2016 that “because of the egregious nature of your offence, and your role in an establishment which makes young people vulnerable and accessible, the General Manager believes that you, as the sole shareholder in your company, are not fit and proper to hold a liquor licence.”

In response, Cooper and Dell filed a petition in B.C. Supreme for a judicial review of the liquor branch’s decision to cancel the licences, and the decision was stayed pending the outcome of this appeal.

Justice Newbury found the liquor branch’s assertion that Cooper is the sole shareholder of the business to be incorrect and noted that as a 25 per cent shareholder “he is not in a position of control.”

Moreover, she noted that the cancellation of the liquor licences also bore consequences for “other members of his family, Dell’s employees, and the community generally. Mr. Cooper deposed that without liquor sales — which constitute about 52 per cent of the licensee’s revenue — the business cannot survive.”

Cooper told the appeal court in an unchallenged affidavit that “it is a simple fact that without this revenue, Dell will not be able to pay its rent and payroll, let alone its other expenses. Accordingly, if the liquor licences are cancelled, the business cannot survive.

“Without a stay of the decision,” Cooper told the court, “all of the above-mentioned employees will be laid off. Several of them are older and have worked at Dell Lanes most of their adult lives…

“The business cannot be sold unless the liquor licences can be transferred to a potential purchaser. This cannot happen as the licences are cancelled.”

Newbury found that the liquor branch’s “misapprehension of the likelihood of Mr. Cooper’s reoffending” led to a conclusion it would have realized was “punitive” had “contextual factors, including the real-life consequences for Mr. Cooper and his family” been considered.

“The risk could have been effectively addressed by adding a term to the licences that would prohibit Dell from hiring any female workers to work in or about the establishment. Mr. Cooper’s compliance with this condition could be easily monitored.”

Newbury found the branch’s order “was a heavy weight resting on the too slender reed of the slight risk of recidivism — a risk that, as already suggested, could have been addressed satisfactorily in terms of public interest by a more nuanced approach that took all relevant factors into account.

“I would allow the appeal,” the judge concluded, “and order that Dell’s licences be renewed on the conditions on which they would otherwise have been renewed, with the addition of a provison that no female person under the age of 19 shall be employed in or about the licenced premises or business establishment as long as Mr. Cooper is employed in any capacity relating to Dell’s business” or until the branch determines “the proviso is no longer necessary.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Courtsex assaultSurreyWhalley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Laura Barnes is to feature some of her artwork at Gallery at Central Plaza next month. (Contributed photo)
New artist showcase coming to White Rock gallery

Laura Barnes work, mixing brights and darks, to be displayed in February

Surrey Community Cat Foundation received funding to assist with medical procedures. (File photo)
SurreyCats receives grant to assist with spay/neuter costs

PetSmart Charities of Canada donates $5,000

White Rock Public Library (File photo)
Surrey, White Rock literacy leaders kick off Family Literacy Week

Literacy events to take place Jan. 24 to 31

Beds are set up at the emergency response centre at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Contributed file photo)
26 people test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey emergency shelter

Centre located at North Surrey Recreation Centre

Surrey firefighters respond to a townhouse fire Sunday morning. (Shane MacKichan photos)
Firefighters respond to townhouse fire in Surrey

Fire ‘knocked down quickly’: witness

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

Most Read