UPDATE: David Ryan could get time served in manslaughter conviction

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Rosie Mullaley
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Two years after his second-degree murder conviction was overturned on appeal, David Ryan has been convicted again in the beating death of a Green’s Harbour man.

David Ryan (left) speaks with his lawyer Bob Buckingham after pleading guilty to manslaughter Thursday morning.

In Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s today, Ryan pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

However, the 54-year-old — who had served almost seven years in jail when he was originally convicted of second-degree murder in May 2007 — likely won’t be going back to prison.

Crown prosecutors Vikas Khaladkar and Mike Murray, along with defence lawyer Bob Buckingham, agreed to a sentence of time served.

Justice Alphonsus Faour opted to reserve his decision on whether or not to accept the joint submission. Instead, the judge said he wanted to review the case law presented by lawyers.

He is scheduled to render his decision April 7, when all counsel will be available.

Richard Brace, 29, was found badly beaten at a house on Water Street in Carbonear July 1, 2005. He was declared brain dead and died of a hemorrhage three days later.

Ryan had been found guilty after he represented himself at his first trial in May 2007 and was sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole for 16 years.

However, in February 2012, the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.

In making its decision, the appeals panel pointed out that Ryan, a man with limited education, could not fully understand the legalities of the trial and was unable to conduct a proper defence.

Ryan, who had been in jail since 2005, was released on bail in March 2012 after the Appeal Court decision.

Brace’s mother, Carolyn Sooley, and sister, Patricia Whiteway, were in court for today’s proceedings. Both their victim impact statements were read in court by Murray.

“There is no greater pain than losing a child, especially in such a cruel and senseless way,” Sooley wrote. “The pain is unimaginable. Life will never be the same again.”

Sooley said her son was a kind and gentle man who would never hurt anyone.

She said the pain she and her family felt nine years ago is just as great today as it is now.

“All I want is justice for Richard,” she wrote. “I know nothing will bring Richard back, but I don’t want my son’s death to be for nothing.”

In her written statement, Whiteway said, “visiting the cemetery is not the same as sitting down and having a brother-sister chat.”

In explaining why the Crown agreed to time served, Khaladkar told the judge that it was in keeping with most sentences for manslaughter convictions, which is four to 10 years.

He said with Ryan having served almost seven years in jail, it was within the range.

He also pointed out that it was in keeping with the pleas of the two other people charged in the case — Ashley Wheadon — who incited the beating, and a male youth — who did most of the beating, also pleaded guilty to manslaughter.  Wheaton was sentenced to a conditional sentence of two years less a day. The youth, who was 16 at the time, was given a three-year youth sentence in secure custody.

Ryan has abided by all conditions of his release in the last two years, including abiding by a curfew, abstaining from alcohol and reporting to police weekly.

He acknowledges alcohol and drugs played a huge part in his actions and has accepted his responsibility.

“The loss of a son and brother is difficult, tragic,” Khaladkar said. “However, the guilty plea should provide some kind of relief for the family.”

Buckingham agreed the guilty plea has saved the family the strain of a lengthy trial.

He said Ryan plans to stay sober by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Buckingham said Ryan said he wouldn’t have done what he did had he not been under the influence of alcohol and drugs, both prescription and non-prescription.

“He understands his guilty plea cannot bring back Mr. Brace,” Buckingham said. “Sometimes he wonders himself why it happened and how it happened. Mr. Brace was a friend and someone he liked.”

When Ryan addressed the court, he was brief.

“I’d like to apologize to the Brace family and to the court for going back and forth before getting to this point. That’s about it, my lord.”

Family members and lawyers chose not to speak to reporters after proceedings.

 

Rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

 

•••

(Earlier story)

 

David Ryan pleads guilty to manslaughter

David Ryan has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Richard Brace.

The 54-year-old Ryan was originally charged with second-degree murder.

Brace, a 29-year-old man from Green's Harbour, was found badly beaten at a house on Water Street in Carbonear July 1, 2005. He was declared brain dead and died of a hemorrhage three days later.

Ryan had been found guilty after he represented himself at his first trial in May 2007 and was sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole for 16 years.

However, in February 2012, the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.

In making its decision, the appeals panel pointed out that Ryan, a man with limited education, could not fully understand the legalities of the trial and was unable to conduct a proper defence.

Ryan, who had been in jail since 2005, was released on bail in March 2012 after the appeal court decision.

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Recent comments

  • Glenn Stockley
    March 14, 2014 - 13:07

    Isn't this his second manslaughter conviction ??? Another expediently easy payday for the lawyers......

  • shelley lewis
    March 13, 2014 - 14:58

    it is disgusting that this man has commited two violent crimes and is being released.....whats he learned ...i got away with it twice so who cares if i do it again....for the first time i am glad that i no longer live in newfoundland