Woman sentenced for assault, theft

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on June 9, 2014
Ashley Elizabeth Ryan (a.k.a. Ashley Elizabeth Oliver) will find out Monday how long she’ll spend behind bars for a violent assault on security guards after she stole items at Piper’s department store on Topsail Road.
— Telegram file photo

A woman who fought violently with security guards in an attempt to get away after stealing things from a St. John’s department store has been sentenced to a jail term of eight months and one week.

Ashley Elizabeth Ryan was sentenced today at provincial court in St. John’s.

Judge Jim Walsh said the eight-month sentence is not unduly harsh, but is severe enough to deter like-minded people.

During Ryan’s sentencing hearing last week, Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany 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.

Ryan (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 bear spray out of her purse and sprayed the men. She also kicked a vehicle in the parking lot.

“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.

She had one conviction for theft from a few years ago on her criminal record. She was given a conditional discharge.

At the sentencing hearing, Ryan apologized for what she did.

When she was arrested, she told the police she was having a bad reaction to medication.

But Walsh pointed out that Ryan remained hostile after her arrest and even during the trial.

“Her empathy for the victims was sorely lacking at trial,” the judge said.

Ryan was escorted out of court in handcuffs to serve her first custodial sentence.