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Webster killer denied parole

Ryan Cran, the sole adult convicted in the brutal November 2001 Stanley Park slaying of Aaron Webster, has been denied parole.

“It’s nice to hear that the justice system works somewhat,” says Denise Norman, wife of Webster’s cousin Fred. “Everybody’s feeling really good.”

During Cran’s trial in BC Supreme Court, the judge heard that the nearly naked Webster was pursued through the park as blows from blunt instruments rained down on him. His attackers then cornered him at his car, beat him until he fell to the ground, and beat him some more.

Webster, 41, died near the entrance to the Lee’s Trail cruising area in the arms of his friend Tim Chisholm.

Norman says the Apr 2 parole hearing in Abbotsford lasted about three hours with Cran once more attempting to minimize his involvement in the killing. Cran’s lawyer, Kris Pechet, appealed his client’s conviction last September, claiming the evidence against him was weak.

The BC Supreme Court gave too much weight to Cran’s alleged confessions, Pechet argued. His client’s statement, for example, that he “lynched a guy” did not necessarily mean he was involved in a beating, Pechet told the court. The Court of Appeal didn’t buy it. Cran later dropped a separate appeal of his sentence.

He is still eligible to apply for day parole in another six months if his behaviour is good, Norman notes. “Hopefully, he’s going to be [in jail] for another two years,” she adds.

Cran is scheduled to be released from jail into open custody on Feb 7, 2009 to complete his sentence in the community.

The fact that Cran allegedly got caught drinking after having been moved into a minimum security facility last year didn’t help his chances for parole, Norman points out. Cran was returned to the medium security Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford after the drinking incident, Norman says she learned at the hearing.

Cran appeared at the hearing with his mother and grandmother. The 24-year-old, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, did not have a lawyer present.

For Jack Herman of West Enders Against Violence Everywhere, Cran’s denial of parole is great news.

“May he rot in jail,” Herman says. “It’s my opinion that he didn’t get long enough in the first place. I’m glad he got turned down.”

Of the two youths who pleaded guilty in the case, one has completed his sentence and the other has served his two years in jail and is now completing his year of open custody in his mother’s Burnaby home. Danny Rao, the other adult charged in the case, was acquitted in 2004.