UPDATE – FEB 5: Ryan Cran’s release date is now set for Feb 6, says his lawyer Kris Pechet. No other details have been released.
ORIGINAL STORY, POSTED FEB 3: The only adult jailed in the vicious 2001 beating death of Aaron Webster will be released from prison Feb 5, the victim’s family has been told.
Ryan Cran, now 26, was convicted of manslaughter in BC Supreme Court on Feb 8, 2005 and was sentenced to six years in jail for his role in the killing of Webster.
That made him eligible for statutory release on parole Feb 7, 2009, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence, the National Parole Board confirms.
On his release from Matsqui prison in BC’s Fraser Valley, Cran will have to report immediately to a parole supervisor in New Westminster. He must continue reporting until his full sentence expires on Feb 7, 2011.
No geographical restrictions have been placed on Cran — a fact that angers Webster’s cousin Denise Norman. She says she would like him barred from the city’s West End.
Community activist Jim Deva has also suggested Cran meet with members of the queer community to discuss the impact of the crime. So far, only one of the three convicted has made any attempt to do that.
Cran was denied day parole in Apr 2007 due to drinking in prison. The incident led to him being transferred to a higher-security facility.
Of the three people convicted in the killing, two youths pleaded guilty in the case and both have finished their sentences. A fourth male was acquitted in adult court.
The attackers used a golf club, pool cues and baseball bats at Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park to kill Webster. They claimed they had gone to the park to look for “peeping toms.”
Instead, they found Webster — naked, except for his shoes.
They pursued him through the park to his car near a cruising area. Webster fell to the ground and the beating continued, the court was told at trial.
The National Parole Board noted in its decision that “the judge found your reason to chase and beat the victim obscure and there was no evidence to suggest the victim was attacked due to his sexual orientation.”
The judge in one of the youths’ cases, however, added a hate crime designation to the teen’s sentence.
“I fail to see why this cannot be described as a gaybashing,” Judge Valmond Romilly ruled, rejecting the youth’s stated claim that his actions were not motivated by a hatred of gays.
It’s hard to believe, Romilly continued, that the youth could be “so naïve that [he] did not notice this area was frequented by gays.”
The attack horrified the city’s queer community which rallied by the thousands in memory of Webster the day after his death.
“What is so chilling about this case is that this group seems to have done this for some reprehensible and almost inconceivable concept of entertainment,” said BC Supreme Court Justice Mary Humphries as she sentenced Cran.
She called the attack random, cowardly and terrifying.
“He must pay for this crime,” she said of Cran.
While on parole, Cran must obtain counselling, avoid people involved in criminal activity, have no contact with Webster’s family and abstain from alcohol.