Gay community troubled by release of killer in Stanley Park death

The release of a man convicted in the beating death of a gay man in Vancouver Stanley Park is raising concerns in Vancouver's West End.

The release of a man convicted in the beating death of a gay man in Vancouver's Stanley Park is raising concerns in Vancouver's West End.

Ryan Cran was released on Thursday after serving four years of a six-year sentence.

He was convicted of manslaughter in December 2004 along with two teens for the November 2001 attack.

Aaron Webster was killed in an area of Stanley Park frequented by gay men when a gang of youths armed with baseball bats and a pool cue beat him and left him to die from a torn artery in his neck.

Following his release on parole, Cran will have to abide by several restrictions, including mandatory counselling and having to apply in writing for approval to visit Vancouver.

Cran first applied for parole after two years of imprisonment in April 2007, but was turned down because he was caught drinking vodka in a minimum-security prison.

Now Cran's release has raised concerns for many in the West End of Vancouver who felt that the attack was a hate crime against homosexuals, and that the three got sentences that were too lenient for the brutal attack.

The two teens involved in the attack were charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and sentenced to three years for manslaughter after pleading guilty. A fourth man was acquitted.

Still not safe

The local NDP MLA, Spencer Herbert, said Thursday that more needs to be done to make people feel safe in the West End neighbourhood known as the Gay Village, now that Cran will walk free.

"It's pretty disturbing that somebody that [kills] a person in cold blood gets out very quickly…. He is not welcome back in the West End where he certainly has made a number of people feel very unsafe," said Herbert on Thursday.

Herbert wants the government to appoint a victim services worker to focus on gay-bashing incidents, and to create a provincial "bash-line" for people to call if they are attacked or threatened.

"There are a lot of people who don't want to go to the police, because they don't want to be outed," said Herbert, "But at the same time, the police I talk to say that it is very important that they get that information."