Dangerous offender denying crimes years after sentence

Richard Norman Ryan fails to get release from prison

Bonnie Belec bbelec@thetelegram.com
Published on May 15, 2014
Richard Ryan. — Telegram file photo

A convicted sex offender from Newfoundland hasn’t given up his chance of an appeal despite being behind bars for the past 14 years, according to a recent Parole Board of Canada decision.

Richard Norman Ryan, 53, has been denied every form of release since he became eligible to apply for escorted temporary absences and day parole in 2004.

However, according to several decisions from the board, he has waived his right to attend hearings and has refused to participate in programming or undergo psychological assessments since he was sent to prison in the early 2000s when he was declared a dangerous offender.

Ryan became the subject of a dangerous offender application in October 1999 after he was convicted of sexual assault, uttering threats and unlawful confinement in connection with an incident involving a 26-year-old university student who Ryan held in a St. John’s motel room against her will.

While awaiting the hearing, Ryan escaped from custody during the summer of 2000 and eluded capture for 25 days.

He climbed out of a window to evade the correctional officer who had escorted him on a visit to see his dying mother and with the help of two others who helped him gather supplies, he set up camp in a tent near Long Harbour before police found him.

He pleaded guilty to the escape in October 2003 and was handed the two-year maximum for the offence. However, given that Ryan was sentenced to an indeterminate period of time after being designated a dangerous offender, the sentence was to run concurrently.

His lawyers at the time filed an appeal of the designation, but it was rejected in January 2004.

When contacted by The Telegram Wednesday, St. John’s law firm Simmonds’ + Partners Defence which represented him in the past, said it couldn’t offer any information about Ryan’s case without his authorization.

It’s unclear if Ryan is taking the Newfoundland Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. There is no documentation filed at the Newfoundland Court of Appeal.

A number of women testified at Ryan’s dangerous offender hearing that he had terrorized them with weapons such as a knife and a gun in order to force them to engage in sexual activity; others testified that he had defrauded them out of thousands of dollars.

Prior to his 1999 convictions, Ryan had served a 30-month sentence for beating and raping a prostitute. His criminal record dates back to 1989 and includes offences such as impaired driving, fraud, assault, harassing telephone calls and breaches of court orders.

According to the parole board decisions, filed between 2009-13, he was transferred to a maximum-security prison in June 2004 because “Correctional Service of Canada had information to believe that he was involved in serious illicit activities and had devised a plan for escape.”

Since then, the decision said Ryan earned a medium-security classification, but chose to remain in voluntary segregation in a maximum-security facility for six years.

Because Ryan has refused to particpate in psychological assessments since 2002, the board said it can only use the dated information as part of its review of his case.

However, since he hasn’t enrolled in any programming to address risk factors, the prison psychologist said he had no cause to disagree with the original assessment of Ryan.

The 2002 evaluation concluded Ryan had met the criteria for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder as well as sexual sadism.  

“After a thorough review of your file, the board comes to the same conclusion as that of your case management team, that your risk at the present time is unacceptable for society under any form of release,” says one of the decisions.

“Your crimes caused serious harm, both psychological and physical, to your victims and your risk of reoffending in similar types of crimes remains assessed as high,” wrote the board.

“Therefore any future reoffending will likely have grave consequences on potential victims. … You have not particpated in any correctional plans and are now denying that you are guilty of the offences for which you were convicted. This represents a regression in your acceptance of responsibility as you had, earlier in your sentence, accepted and not denied these crimes,” says the decision.

The board members concluded there was no community supervision available that could manage Ryan’s risk and no form of community release  adequate to protect the public.  

The board noted one of its mandates is to review cases to determine if an offender’s sentence has been tailored to fit the circumstances of their cases, and to ensure their continued incarceration does not become grossly disproportionate.

In this case it is not, the board concluded.