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Suspended sentence recommended for assailant in Abbotsford nurse attack

Ryan Stard appeared in court on Wednesday for the first day of his sentencing hearing

The man who assaulted a nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital in 2015 deserves a three-year suspended sentence, according to the Crown prosecutor in the case.

Tyler Dotton told the judge in a sentencing hearing on Wednesday afternoon in Abbotsford provincial court that there were a number of aggravating and mitigating factors that led him to determine this was a fair sentence for Ryan Stard, who previously pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm.

Stard was being treated for a perceived heart problem and mental health issues when he attacked a nurse unprovoked in March 2015 in the emergency department, Dotton said. The nurse suffered cuts above and below his eye and required stitches.

The nurse (whose identity cannot be revealed due to a publication ban) has not been able to return to work since the incident. He has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which has greatly affected his life and that of his family, Dotton told the judge.

Dotton also pointed out that a psychiatric assessment of Stard determined it was likely he was delusional during the incident, possibly induced by the use of marijuana and sleep deprivation.

Dotton drew contrast between two possible sentences – a suspended sentence and a conditional release for Stard. Both would result in no jail time with conditions (such as no contact with the victim and no possession of weapons) but a suspended sentence would result in a criminal conviction on Stard’s record, which would mean any future charges could carry a heavier consequence.

He also told the judge that Stard had grown up in a highly chaotic environment and that his Metis heritage should be considered when arriving at a sentence.

Stard’s defence attorney James Boxal did not make submissions in the case, but is scheduled to do so when the hearing is back in session on Oct. 11.

The judge is likely to make a decision on that day as well.

BC Nurses’ Union president Gayle Duteil, who attended the hearing, along with approximately 20 local nurses, said she was disappointed that the Crown was not seeking a more harsh sentence.

“We’re disappointed that nurses aren’t given the same considerations as a bus driver,” she said.

“This is the start of a journey: BC Nurses’ Union will be moving this forward to change the laws.”

Duteil said assaulting a healthcare worker should be considered especially heinous because of the vulnerable position their work puts them in.

“This nurse has been victimized, assaulted because they were working the night shift in an emergency department. It’s unacceptable and we will work very hard to change the laws of this land.”