A man who nearly died after being stabbed in the eye with a pool cue fears his family will be stuck with medical costs because the attacker has been deported to Saudi Arabia.
Abdulaziz Alhedaib, 29, limps along slowly with a cane. His right arm is so weak it requires a brace. The left side of his face is droopy.
His disabilities are the result of an attack on Nov. 2, 2012 at a nightclub in Kamloops, BC, when an acquaintance jammed a pool cue through his left eye and into his brain.
Doctors said Alhedaib was lucky to have survived the attack that happened on the evening he was celebrating his birthday.
Yousef Almotairi was found guilty last July of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He was sentenced to six months in jail.
Both men are Saudi nationals and were studying business at Thompson Rivers University when the assault occurred.
Now, with mounting health-care expenses, Alhedaib is angry with the Canadian government’s decision to deport his attacker, Yousef Almotairi, essentially rendering useless a lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses.
“Who is going to be responsible for my medical bills, for my future?" Alhedaib said.
“We’ll get a judgment and a piece of paper saying, ‘He owes amount of,’ and take it. What am I supposed to do with that piece of paper?"
The Crown sought a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, but Almotairi got six months behind bars.
Almotairi was behind bars for four months because offenders serving a jail sentence are released after two thirds of their term.
Alhedaib deems that unfair given he spent five months in a hospital bed.
“He almost killed me,” he said. “My doctor told my family ‘72 hours — he might die.’
Alhedaib said he vividly remembers what happened on the night his life changed forever.
He went to Cactus Jack's with a group of friends and saw Almotairi involved in a scuffle.
“I saw Yousef arguing with three guys — two of them wearing cowboy hats and one of them wearing a baseball hat,” he said. “They were swearing.”
Alhedaib said he tried to play peacemaker but Almotairi became confrontational.
“I heard him saying, ‘You don’t want to mess with me."
“Before my injury, I was a kickboxer. I was like, ‘What did you say?’”
Alhedaib said the last thing he recalls is Almotairi approaching him in an aggressive manner.
“I woke up after three weeks — didn’t know what happened, my family in front of me.”
Alhedaib’s lawsuit against Almotairi and Cactus Jack’s for aggravated and punitive damages was filed before Almotairi was sentenced and is still before the courts.
He alleges the nightclub was negligent because it didn't stop the intoxicated men from drinking, didn't intervene in the confrontation, the club was overcrowded and understaffed.
The club has denied any responsibility and none of the allegations filed in the civil suit have been proven in court, although Almotairi was found guilty.
Because Almotairi was deported back to Saudi Arabia following his time behind bars, it's tough for B.C.’s courts to enforce any potential ruling that might be made because Canada does not have an agreement with that country regarding civil judgments.
Thompson Rivers University law professor Richard Oppong said any judgment in Alhedaib’s favour would have to be approved by a Saudi Arabian court — something that's unlikely to happen.
“Let’s say someone from Saudi Arabia gets a judgment in Saudi Arabia and he wants to enforce it in B.C.,” he said. “You have to demonstrate that the Saudi court was competent. Secondly, you have to demonstrate that the judgment was for a fixed amount of money. And, the defendant can come to court and submit evidence.”
Oppong said Alhedaib would have to hire a lawyer in Saudi Arabia to have any hope of advancing his claim in that country, and the prospect of that happening is unlikely in any event.
Alhedaib's life has changed immensely since his injury, physically and socially.
“To be honest with you, this injury taught me one thing — that I have no friends,” he said.
“The people I went to the bar with (on the night of the attack) were not even there for five minutes to visit me in hospital. The only people who have been there for me are my family.”
Despite that, Alhedaib plans to stay in Canada after completing his university education — something he hopes to accomplish by 2016.