‘This is not me’

Rosie Mullaley
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Man says his life was out of control when he went on a poppy-tin stealing spree

Ryan Samuel Wight pleaded guilty Monday in provincial court in St. John’s during his sentencing hearing to stealing 10 poppy tins last month. The hearing is expected to continue today. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A St. John’s man who went on a poppy-tin stealing spree last month said his life spiralled out of control and he hit rock bottom.

“Two years ago, I was in control of my life,” Ryan Samuel Wight testified during his sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s Monday.

“Now, I’m in a cell with 16 other criminals …

“This is not me. This is not my lifestyle.”

The articulate 29-year-old explained to the judge he’s never been in trouble with the law until recently. He’d never had a drug problem and has always been a hard worker.

Wight owned his own plastering and painting company and also had a well-paying job working offshore.

He said he’s been plagued by anxiety for the last few years — “ups and downs” and has seen a number of doctors to try and control it.

But last month, everything came to a head when he got laid off from his offshore job and saw a bad relationship with a woman get even worse.

“The relationship became my addiction,” Wight said. “I was sacrificing everything for this relationship …

“I was fighting a lot with everyone … I just lost control. I was back to being broke and now I’m depressed.”

That’s when Wight went on a week-long binge of poppy-tin thefts.

Between Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, he swiped poppy tins off the counters of 10 businesses in the capital city, including Tim Hortons, convenience stores, gas stations, a grocery store and a bank.

Each of the businesses had video surveillance, which helped police identify Wight. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

With encouragement from his brother and father, Wight turned himself into police Nov. 11.

He’s been in jail ever since — a dose of reality he said he needed.

“It’s definitely been a sobering experience,” Wight said.

Now, he said he wants to turn his life around.

“I want a fresh start,” he said. “With the help of my mother and father, I want to make this a thing of the past.”

Both his parents testified that their son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at a young age and has had problems focusing. However, they believe he can change his life.

Wight pleaded guilty to the thefts, along with numerous breaches of court orders.

The only other convictions on Wight’s record are an assault in 2008 and a theft of cologne in 2010.

But Wight said the spree of poppy tins was a different story. It happened because of his poor mental state.

“I didn’t understand what I was doing,” he said.

“I understand (now) it’s for the (Royal Canadian Legion) foundation to help veterans. I would do anything to make it right. I would volunteer if they need me.”

Defence lawyer Jane Fitzpatrick and Crown prosecutor Heidi Zdebiak will make their final arguments on sentencing today, but Fitzpatrick indicated she will seek a conditional sentence.

The hearing will continue today, with Judge Greg Browne expected to render his decision shortly after.


Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Tim Hortons

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Recent comments

  • maggie
    December 20, 2011 - 23:17

    I believe in forgiveness and I believe this guy do need help,make him pay back all the money and for sure get him to help in everyway for a year with working helping these vets out and hearing all that they went through maybe than he just might not do those kind of things.Get him help, No jail time will pay back the hurt he cause all vets..

  • Scott
    December 20, 2011 - 13:27

    Many of us hit low points in our life. Who are any of you to say that his apologies were not sincere? Perhaps this has been eye opening for him and he'll turn his life around. I know first hand how abusive toxic relationships can seriously alter our sense of reality. And if are not aware of the damage it can cause, do your research. Don't get me wrong, he should be punished for his crimes, but I think a little forgiveness is needed in order for redemption.

  • David
    December 20, 2011 - 13:12

    Ryan Wight, I'm glad that "this is not you". Because whoever 'that' guy is, he's the scum of the Earth and useless to society. BTW, this new thing where you idiots try to say there is some sort of existential detachment between yourself and that "criminal" guy? Pathetic. Just sack up and face reality.

  • Lane
    December 20, 2011 - 12:37

    What a load of BS. The article starts by saying he had "never been in trouble with the law" before, but at the end it mentions that he had two prior convictions - for assault and theft. He claims the recent thefts were out of character, but his criminal record says otherwise. He's a repeat offender and has failed to change his ways. Put him in prison where he can do no further harm.

  • mike
    December 20, 2011 - 12:03

    Aww the good old telegram witch hunt. I hope you all enjoy church over Christmas while you sit their preaching forgiveness. Hypocrites!.

  • Steve
    December 20, 2011 - 11:34

    Stealing from war veterans.....There's a special place in hell for people like him.

  • Melanie
    December 20, 2011 - 11:20

    Would this guy have felt this way if he had not been caught?

    December 20, 2011 - 10:03

    How pathetic is this? What this means is that everyone who has "A BAD DAY" can go and steal. Give me a break. This young man is pathetic and should pay. What a way to get away with a crime, "MENTAL ILLNESS". PATHETIC, PATHETIC, PATHETIC.!

  • Concerned Newfie
    December 20, 2011 - 09:31

    This guy is not a "kid" and it seems to me like their excuses are all the same these days... mental health/bad relationships/ etc... let's face it, it all comes down to drug addiction and this province is going down hill very fast!

    • Finegold
      December 20, 2011 - 11:19

      Where in this article does it say he was addicted to drugs? What's the excuse for corporate theives?

  • jim
    December 20, 2011 - 09:28

    conditional sentence w/ volunteer time at The Legion seems fair.

  • Brett
    December 20, 2011 - 08:37

    This story has gotten a heck of a lot of billing on NTV, over bigger drug busts, robberies using weapons, and for a lot more money. In the end isn't this about a kid with an emotional/mental issue who stole like $600?

  • TopherMittens
    December 20, 2011 - 08:20

    He stole a poppy tin and this is what is done. I'm fine with that. So what happens to the political leaders that steal from the public??? Nothing?? Pat on the back??? Another term?? Full pension??? Yes to all...

  • Scott Free
    December 20, 2011 - 07:55

    Want some cheese with that whine? you low-life lout; I'd sentence you to the frontline to earn your next poppy; I bet there's alot of veterans that would love to send you a message; stop making up excuses and be a man, not a mouse.

  • Jimmy
    December 20, 2011 - 06:55

    You knew exactly what you were doing but I beleive you are sincere.

    • Anna
      December 20, 2011 - 12:38

      Why are you giving this story so much publicity? You never follow up on good stories like what happened at the SPCA to make the board quit, how are the teachers coping with cheating in the classroom with the new rules the Government has bought in, how did Mr. Williams acquire so much land for so little? You report everything and then there is absolutely no follow up. We don't need to here about little punks like this one.