Tuesday April 22, 2014

Gasoline thief uses bear spray

Man who tried to stop theft gets face full of repellant

A witness who attempted to stop a man from siphoning gasoline along Versatile Drive got a face full of bear spray for his good deed.

After pleading guilty to the assault, Ryan Ellison, 29, was given a six-month conditional sentence in provincial court on Wednesday.

Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo said several witnesses saw Ellison stealing gasoline on May 28, 2012, and one man tried to intervene.

The intervener wound up as a victim himself, having to retreat to a friend’s place to wash the stinging repellant from his eyes while waiting for police to arrive, Caputo said.

Ellison was later determined to be a suspect through police identification of his vehicle and assistance from a female associate who was marginally co-operative. He was picked out of three police lineups.

Defence counsel Jeremy Jensen said his client, 29, slid into drug abuse a decade ago. It was an addiction that one acquaintance said made Ellison unrecognizable, but the Savona resident has undergone a transformation through treatment and counselling, he said. He’s enrolled in a rehabilitation program with the Hope for Freedom Society and works part-time in construction.

Ellison lost his brother in an ATV accident on Sept. 8, when they were together on an outing, but didn’t relapse into drug use, Jensen said.

Judge Christopher Cleaveley accepted a joint sentencing submission for a conditional sentence to be served in the community under curfew, followed by a year’s probation.

Ellison must abide by a set of strict conditions, including no contact with the victim (other than providing a written apology by Jan. 14, 2014), no alcohol or drugs and no weapons. As well, he’ll face a three-year firearms ban and a DNA order.

“I’m happy to hear you’ve turned this around, Mr. Ellison,” Cleaveley said. “It seems clear that since 2004-2005 you’ve been operating on the margins of the community.”

If Ellison violates his conditions, he goes straight back to jail, he added.

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