Armed rob­ber hopes fed­eral time curbs drug ad­dic­tion

Ryan Hawco sen­tenced to 30 months in prison for South River holdup in 2016

The Compass - - Editorial - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Ryan Hawco was sen­tenced to two-and-a-half years in prison Fri­day at Har­bour Grace Pro­vin­cial Court.

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