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Nothing seems to deter him,' Crown says of St. John's man who assaulted, threatened woman

Sheriff's officers handcuff Ryan Farrell and prepare to escort him from a St. John's courtroom, where he was convicted Thursday of assaulting and threatening a woman.
Sheriff's officers handcuff Ryan Farrell and prepare to escort him from a St. John's courtroom, where he was convicted Thursday of assaulting and threatening a woman. - Tara Bradbury

Ryan Farrell's record of similar crimes warrants an increased jail sentence, judge rules

Ryan Farrell attempted to bargain with the court Thursday in an effort to receive a lighter jail sentence for assaulting a woman last fall.

Crown prosecutor Richard Deveau had suggested an eight-month jail term for Farrell, followed by a year of probation.

Farrell wanted six months — which would have seen him released from custody, due to time served — and tried to negotiate it.

"I'll even take an extra year of probation," he told Judge David Orr.

But it was for naught. Orr sentenced Farrell to eight months in Her Majesty's Penitentiary, saying his significant criminal record, with multiple convictions for similar offences, warranted an increase in jail time.

Farrell, 32, was originally charged with assaulting the woman, threatening her, stealing from her and breaching court orders. After a trial — in which Farrell represented himself, but a lawyer was appointed to cross-examine the complainant — Orr dismissed the robbery charge, saying the evidence against Farrell in that regard was murky. He found Farrell guilty of assault and uttering threats.

Last week, a woman told the court she had been sitting in a bus stop shelter outside the Avalon Mall the morning of Sept. 24 when Farrell, with whom the court heard she had previously been romantically involved, approached her. He was upset and yelling at her, she said, accusing her of previously stealing his sunglasses and calling her names. She said he grabbed her hair, unintentionally hitting her in the head in the process, and stole a bag containing money and inexpensive jewelry from her purse before spitting in her face and leaving.

"He was saying I was lucky he didn't hit women," she said. "He said he was lucky he didn't have his knife. … He's a man of his word when it comes to following through on things."

The woman originally said Farrell had hit her on the left side of her head, then said under cross-examination she had been mistaken and it had been the right side of her head that he hit.

The woman said Farrell continued the threats via text messages when she got home, and she called the police.

"That's what made me realize I had to do something," she testified. "When he said he'd do it again … I'm not going to live like that (in fear)."

When Farrell took the stand, he said he had been walking near the bus stop when he saw the woman in it.

"I did get a little upset and started screaming at her, yes," he testified. "I did tell her she was lucky I don't hit women. That part of her story is true. I will admit I did spit in her face and walk away, but I did not grab her hair and I did not put my hand in her purse. I did not punch her."

Farrell insisted he would have had "hair particles" under his fingernails if he had grabbed the woman by the hair and red knuckles if he had hit her hard enough to leave a mark on her. To try to prove it, he rapped his knuckles on the witness podium in the courtroom, showing them to Deveau.

"Look, there are red marks there now already," Farrell said.

Farrell also questioned why the woman waited two hours to call the police, and why no one in the busy bus stop came to her assistance.

"I did scream loud enough that everybody could hear me. If she was in immediate danger, I'm sure people would have stepped in," he said.

In his sentencing submissions, Deveau presented Farrell's lengthy criminal record, which contained multiple prior convictions for assault and uttering threats, among others.

"The concern we have with Mr. Farrell is nothing seems to deter him," Deveau said.

The facts that the incident was domestic in nature and had occurred in broad daylight were especially aggravating, Deveau said.

"It was in public; he didn't care who was there. He saw her and he was going to get his message across. He had a bone to pick with her and he didn't care where it was going to happen."

Deveau said Farrell appeared to have a history of becoming fixated on people and things, and said his record warranted a "significant jump" in the severity of his sentence.

"The Crown is kind of at a loss for words as to what to do with him," Deveau said. "There are obviously some underlying issues. Maybe it's drugs, maybe it's interpersonal issues, maybe it's mental health, but this is something a probation officer can look at with him if Mr. Farrell is willing."

Farrell told the judge he has no family support and has mental-health issues for which he does not receive his medication in prison. Being incarcerated has cost him jobs, he said.

"I don't see how giving me more time is going to help me," Farrell said.

With enhanced credit given for the time he has spent in custody, Farrell has 68 days left to serve at HMP. When he is released, he will be on probation for a year, with conditions including that he have no contact with the complainant and that he must participate in counselling.

tara_bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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