Woman jailed for violent theft

Judge cites her lack of empathy for the security guards she doused with dog spray

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on June 10, 2014
Ashley Elizabeth Ryan (a.k.a. Oliver) was sentenced to a jail term of eight months and one week during provincial court in  St. John’s Monday. — Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

A week before she was sentenced, Ashley Elizabeth Ryan apologized for stealing from a department store and fighting violently with security guards.

But it was the lack of remorse she showed prior that concerned the judge.

“Her empathy for the victims was sorely lacking (after the incident and during her trial),” Judge Jim Walsh said in handing down her sentence at provincial court in St. John’s Monday.

The judge gave Ryan eight months and a week in jail, with two years’ probation.

The 23-year-old — who also goes by the surname Oliver — was found guilty of theft under $5,000, mischief by damaging property, assault causing bodily harm and two counts of assault with a weapon.

She was arrested on Sept. 15, 2012, after an incident at Pipers on Topsail Road.

She had walked into the store and taken items — including furniture and picture frames — and left without paying. When two security guards approached her on the parking lot, Ryan became angry and violent.

She stomped on one man’s feet and bit him. The guards struggled with her, but she continued to fight. It became so serious, two men passing by stopped to help the guards.

During the struggle, Ryan pulled a can of dog spray out of her purse and sprayed the men. She also kicked a vehicle in the parking lot.

When she was arrested, officers discovered she also had a can of bear spray.

“I’ve had a number of cases in which (the person) used a weapon after a theft — most edged weapons,” Walsh said. “It appears a simple case of shoplifting is being turned into something more serious with carrying a weapon.”

Ryan was released on bail shortly after her arrest.

When she was arrested, she told the police she was having a bad reaction to medication. At the sentencing hearing, she told the judge she was sorry for her actions.

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany had recommended Ryan go to prison for up to a year.

Defence lawyer Ken Hollett said a three- or four-month jail term was more appropriate.

Walsh said the eight-month sentence is not unduly harsh, but is severe enough to deter like-minded people. He pointed out that it was close to a charge of robbery with violence, in which she would’ve been sentenced to three years.

Conditions of Ryan’s sentence include that she stay away from Piper’s and participate in counselling, particularly for drug and alcohol abuse, recommended by her probation officer.

As part of her sentence, Ryan is banned from having a firearm for 10 years and must submit a DNA sample.

Ryan — whose criminal record included a conviction for theft a few years ago, for which she was given a conditional sentence — showed no reaction as she was escorted out of court in handcuffs to serve her first custodial sentence.



Twitter: @TelyCourt