‘This is not me’

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

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on December 20, 2011
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.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt