‘The real victim is the public’

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Rosie Gillingham
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Judge sentences drug-addicted woman to more than a year in jail

Catherine Ryan

A St. John’s judge had one piece of advice for a woman who attributed her criminal behaviour to drug addiction — stop playing the victim.

“Whether or not you continue to be an addict is in your hands,”  Judge Mike Madden said Thursday in provincial court before sentencing Catherine Ryan to more than a year in jail.

“Whether or not you continue to prey upon the public, is in your hands.

“The real victim is the public.”

With 2 1/2 months credit given for her time already spent in custody, Ryan has 10 months left on her term. Once released, she will be on a year’s probation.

The 52-year-old pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges, including two counts each of break-and-enter and damaging property, as well as charges of theft, fraud, failing to report to the RNC, failing to attend court and a slew of court breaches.

In her first break-in, on Oct. 1, 2011, Ryan got into the Blue Stone Inn, a bed and breakfast on Queen’s Road, using the key she had when she had previously worked there.

When one of the owners spotted her, Ryan told her she was there to book a room for the following week, but left before answering any more of the woman’s questions.

The owner later noticed several items missing, including a gold bracelet, iPad and bottle of liquor. There were no guests staying there at the time.

During the police investigation, it was discovered Ryan’s son had taken the bracelet to a local jeweller’s and sold it for $450.

Ryan later came to the store claiming her son had stolen it from her. She presented him with what she said was a police file number from the RNC, prompting the owner to return the bracelet to her. Ryan then went to Traders and sold the bracelet for $140.

She committed another break-in on May 19 of this year, when she walked into a house on Albany Street.

When the homeowner caught her, Ryan claimed she had been there to rent the apartment. There was no apartment in the house.

When the man demanded she empty her pockets, he saw Ryan had taken several bottles of his fiancée’s prescription pills for anxiety. Both the man and his fiancee, who walked in shortly after, kept Ryan there until police arrived. At one point, the man’s fiancée grabbed Ryan’s hoodie and her hair to keep her from running.

Ryan’s theft charge was laid Feb. 1 of this year after she took two rings, including an 80-year-old sterling silver Irish wedding band, and a wallet from a resident at Emmanuel House, a halfway house on Cochrane Street, where Ryan had been staying for a short period of time.

Staff found the wallet in Ryan’s former room, while police found the Irish wedding band at Ryan’s new apartment, but didn’t recover the other ring.

In rendering his decision on sentencing, Madden went along with an agreed recommendation from Crown prosecutor Jennifer Colford and defence lawyer Kevin Baker.

Colford had noted that Ryan had a previous criminal record and that her pre-sentence report deemed her a high risk to reoffend.

Baker mentioned Ryan’s drug addiction, pointing out she’s had a difficult life.

When Ryan got the opportunity to speak, she told the judge, “I am an addict. I have been for 40 years.” She went on to say her actions have been affected by her “illness.”

However, Madden said addiction can be overcome.

“Your life is, by no means, over,” he said.

“If you’re able to take your life in your hands, you may have 40 good years ahead of you to counteract the 40 years that you’ve had this monkey on your back.

“But, as I said, it’s up to you.”

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Blue Stone Inn, Emmanuel House

Geographic location: Cochrane Street

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