Daniel Ryder has been found not guilty in Clarenville court this morning. The 24-year-old was charged with robbery, being disguised with intent and theft under $5,000 following an armed robbery in his hometown of Bonavista on Jan. 5 2010.
Judge Patrick Kennedy cleared the former hockey star on all charges. Kennedy took almost two hours to read his decision, indicating there was a high degree of evidence pointing to Ryder’s opportunity to commit the offence. However, he said, the burden of proof was not met by the Crown.
The trial was based around a video of the robbery and circumstantial evidence of Ryder’s activities on the night of the robbery. Nobody could positively identify the suspect in the video, and there was no forensic evidence linking Ryder to the scene of the crime. Ryder’s behaviour at the time was unusual which, according to testimony in court, was due in part to mental illness that was diagnosed after the robbery.
Kennedy said the evidence “does not draw the net tightly enough around the accused.”
The judge also noted that the police had several other leads in the case but did not follow up on them. In one case, two sets of footprints were found in the vicinity of the Red Circle store, and two young men were seen running in the area that night. The Ultramar jacket worn by the robber - similar to the one Ryder borrowed from a friend that evening - was also found to be easily available and common in Bonavista.