Daniel Ryder mentally unfit to stand trial

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Former hockey pro's case to go before review board

Daniel Ryder has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial by a provincial court judge.

Now it's up to a Mental Disorder Review Board to make the final determination on whether or not the former hockey pro can face criminal charges.

The Bonavista man - once touted as a promising hockey player with a potential NHL career - was back in provincial court in St. John's Monday for a fitness hearing, where the issue of his mental competence was discussed.

Daniel Ryder (left) of Bonavista is led out of provincial court in St. John's Monday. - Photo by Rosie Gillingham/ The Telegram

Daniel Ryder has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial by a provincial court judge.

Now it's up to a Mental Disorder Review Board to make the final determination on whether or not the former hockey pro can face criminal charges.

The Bonavista man - once touted as a promising hockey player with a potential NHL career - was back in provincial court in St. John's Monday for a fitness hearing, where the issue of his mental competence was discussed.

Dr. Nizar Ladha, a psychiatrist at the Waterford Hospital, testified he believed Ryder was mentally unfit to stand trial and suggested the appropriate procedure would be to have his matter referred to a review board.

Judge Robert Hyslop opted to follow the doctor's recommendation.

"The good news is his prognosis is favourable," Hyslop said, "... and he's responding well to treatment."

Outside court, Ladha explained that the review board is made up of five people - a chairperson (a judge), a member of the community and three psychiatrists not connected to the case.

The review hearings will be held within 45 days.

According to the review board's annual activity report, its focus is to "meet Criminal Code obligations to ensure that mentally disordered individuals who are in conflict with the legal system do not languish in psychiatric facilities."

Ryder is charged with robbery, being disguised with the intent of committing a crime, using an imitation firearm to carry out a crime and theft under $5,000.

They stem from a Jan. 5 incident at a convenience store in his hometown.

According to the RCMP in Bonavista, Ryder entered a Red Circle convenience store carrying a white shopping bag.

He informed the lone cashier he had a gun and demanded cigarettes.

He allegedly had his face partially covered by a black scarf and was wearing what appeared to be several layers of clothing, including a grey hooded sweater and a blue Ultramar jacket.

Ryder turned himself in to the RCMP in Bonavista the following day, shortly after police issued a news alert asking for the public's help in identifying the suspect.

The 23-year-old - the younger brother of Boston Bruins star Michael Ryder - made his first court appearance in Clarenville in early January, but has been at the Waterford Hospital in St. John's since then for a psychiatric assessment.

In each of the handful of times he returned to face a judge in St. John's, he was sent back to the Waterford for further evaluation.

Throughout Monday's proceedings in Courtroom No. 7, Ryder sat expressionless.

Ryder was a playoff MVP with the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League's Peterborough Petes in 2005-06, and laced up for American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League teams.

Drafted 74th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2005, Ryder has not played this season, the final year of his three-year NHL entry-level contract.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NHL, Waterford Hospital, Mental Disorder Review Board RCMP Ontario Major Junior Hockey League American Hockey League East Coast Hockey League Calgary Flames

Geographic location: Bonavista, St. John's, Clarenville

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