Armed robber hopes federal time curbs drug addiction
Ryan Hawco sentenced to 30 months in prison for South River holdup in 2016
A man convicted of holding up a South River store with a knife hopes time spent in federal prison will aid him in a battle against drug addiction.
Ryan William Hawco received a 30-month sentence Friday at Harbour Grace Provincial Court for robbing Marshall’s Cornerstop and Fish Market on Sept. 30, 2016.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Hawco arrived at the store with his face covered shortly after 6:30 p.m. Brandishing a knife, he obtained cigarettes and cash from a store employee before a man managed to disarm Hawco and keep him on the ground with help from two other people. All three were able to identify him as Ryan Hawco, and surveillance footage confirmed the events they described.
Hawco, a 35-year-old who was living in Makinsons at the time of his arrest, pled guilty to committing robbery, disguise with intent and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. The Crown agreed to withdraw three unrelated charges.
After lawyers submitted their arguments for sentencing, Hawco addressed the court and apologized to everyone he impacted with his acts — both the people in the store and his family.
“I lost my heart and soul a long time ago from drugs, and I just want to get it back and start over,” he said as family members seated behind him sobbed.
Hawco had one unrelated prior conviction from 2011 for impaired driving. After finishing high school, he had a solid work career and, as described by defence lawyer Kevin Baker, had a pretty average existence.
But drugs became his undoing, with an arresting officer noting he appeared to be intoxicated at the time of the crime. Baker said Hawco told him directly he wanted to serve federal time rather than get locked up in Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, as he wanted to avail of special programming for people in his predicament and increase his chances of returning to society as a healthy individual.
Baker himself observed his client has come a long way from when he first saw Hawco in custody last fall while appearing as duty counsel in Harbour Grace. Upon his release, Hawco’s family immediately offered their support, and he spent time at the Grace Centre in Harbour Grace to treat his addiction.
Judge Paul Noble lamented the fact drug-fueled crime has become all too common in Newfoundland and Labrador, and across North America as a whole. He said it’s harder for people in towns to feel safe and secure as a result, adding he could only imagine how shocked the people inside the store were that day.
“The courts need to send a strong message to our communities that they can expect the justice system to react appropriately in ensuring their sense of wellbeing and peaceful existence,” he said.
Noble then added there’s a need for courts to recognize an offender’s right to rehabilitation. He said Hawco’s pre-sentencing report indicted the man could offer clear-eyed insight into his addiction. Noble highlighted the fact his path to the justice system was unusual and said that should count for something when it comes to sentencing.
Crown prosecutor Paul Thistle asked for a three-year sentence, while Baker requested a sentence below that figure but greater
I lost my heart and soul a long time ago from drugs, and I just want to get it back and start over. — Ryan Hawco
than two years. The judge ultimately met their requests halfway.
Hawco received credit for 21 days served in remand custody and must pay a victim-fine surcharge of $600 in 30 days. He must provide a DNA sample to a databank and will be subject to a 10-year firearms prohibition upon release.
Ryan Hawco was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison Friday at Harbour Grace Provincial Court.