David Ryan, who last month finally admitted guilt to playing a part in the Carbonear drinking-party death of Richard Brace, was sentenced this morning to the time he has already spent behind bars.

Ryan, 54, pleaded guilty in March to manslaughter in the 2005 case, which also sent two other people to prison.

Brace, 29, died in hospital after being viciously beaten at the home in Carbonear that Ryan was renting at the time. 

At the time he changed his plea, Ryan had served six years and almost eight months in prison. 

Both the Crown and defence had agreed on a sentencing submission, which Justice Fonse Faour accepted Monday at Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Faour, who called the act "cruel and senseless," said that Ryan had already spent more time behind bars than he would have if he had been sentenced to manslaughter in the first place.

"I recognize there were two tragedies in this offence," Faour wrote in his sentencing decision.

"The first, and biggest, loss was the death of Richard Brace ... The second is the state that Mr. Ryan put himself into to cause him to participate in this death." 

The court was told that Ryan, an alcoholic, had begun drinking again shortly before Brace's death, and that he had consumed between four dozen and five dozen bottles of beer in the two days before the beating. As well, he had had also consumed vodka, smoked marijuana and taken sleeping pills. 

Court saga concludes

The sentencing ends a saga that has run through the courts for almost nine years. 

Ryan had insisted on representing himself at his trial, which ended in 2007 with a second-degree murder conviction and an automatic sentence of 16 years with no chance of parole. 

That verdict was overturned on appeal in 2012, with the appeals court judges determining that Ryan, who had just a Grade 7 education, could not "properly conduct his own defence." 

In accepting the manslaughter plea, the Crown acknowledged that Ryan had been so drunk when the fatal brawl broke out, he could not have formed the intent to kill Brace. 

Two others were convicted for their part in Brace's death. Ashley Wheadon, Brace's girlfriend, was given two years' house arrest after pleading guilty to manslaughter, although the court noted that she did not strike any blows. 

A man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime and thus cannot be named, was given a three-year sentence for manslaughter.