Canada Day was not a time for celebration for those in the house of David Ryan on July 1, 2005. The events of that day and the previousevening resulted in the death of Richard Brace. Mr. Brace was severely beaten on several occasions in the course of a party where drugs and alcoholwere present. He subsequently died as a result of head injuries.
Three people were ultimately charged, on separate indictments, withmurdering him. One, B.K., a young offender, was convicted of the includedoffence of manslaughter, following a three week trial at which he wasrepresented by counsel. The second, A.W, also represented by counsel, pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, the included offence of manslaughter on an agreed statement of facts. The third, David Ryan, theappellant in this case, represented himself and was convicted of seconddegree murder following a fourteen week trial. He was sentenced to lifeimprisonment without eligibility for parole for sixteen years. The prosecution was represented by two counsel.
Mr. Ryan now appeals his conviction. He raises issues relating to:lack of timely disclosure; failure of the trial judge to give a
cautionto the jury; inappropriate comments made by Crown counsel in her closingaddress to the jury; and the trial judge’s treatment of him as anunrepresented litigant and her management of the trial, including her failureto declare a mistrial even though Mr. Ryan did not seek, and actuallyopposed, such a declaration. He also submits that even if a mistrial shouldnot have been declared, the verdict was unreasonable and cannot besupported by the evidence.
A common theme running through all of the submissions on appeal isthat Mr. Ryan, a man with limited formal education and representinghimself, was, although he did not fully appreciate it, in the words of hiscounsel “out of his depth” and could not properly conduct his own defence.
R. v. Harris
, 2009 SKCA 96, Richards J.A. observed that:
 … An accused who decides to proceed absent the assistance of a lawyer cannot, after the fact, attack a conviction on the basis that he or she did not haverepresentation as effective as what might have been provided by counsel. … Inother words, individuals who decide to represent themselves cannot have their cake and eat it too.