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Baseball bat saved life, woman testifies in St. John's court

Ray Stacey looks toward his parents in the gallery as he is escorted back to the lockup at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Tuesday morning.
Ray Stacey looks toward his parents in the gallery as he is escorted back to the lockup at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John's Tuesday morning. - Tara Bradbury

Ray Stacey attacked his wife before attempting two carjackings, court hears

Ray Stacey's wife is certain she would have died last May if it hadn't been for the baseball bat she grabbed as Stacey was threatening to kill her.

That's what the court heard Tuesday morning as Stacey, 27, was convicted of assaulting the woman, assaulting her again with a weapon, robbery, theft of a motor vehicle and breaching court orders. He pleaded guilty to the charges — making a deal with the Crown in exchange for the withdrawal of other charges — and signed an agreed statement of facts related to the May 5 incident.

Married for about a year, Stacey's wife testified at a preliminary hearing that he had been a supportive husband and new father until he suffered the death of a family member, and then things went downhill. The couple was living apart last May when the woman informed Stacey she was coming to his place to pick up some items for their baby.

"I was under the influence of drugs. I take full responsibility for my actions." – Ray Stacey

She arrived at the apartment to find Stacey under the influence of drugs. When she was ready to leave, her flip flops were nowhere to be found. The pair argued, and Stacey went to the kitchen, took a red, sheathed knife from a drawer, unsheathed it, and told his wife to go into the bedroom. He said he was going to kill her.

In the bedroom, the woman grabbed a baseball bat that was on the bed and swung it at Stacey, hitting him in the temple. While struggling for the bat, Stacey kicked her in the chest.

The woman said she tried to leave the home, but Stacey dragged her back inside. When she tried a second time, he grabbed her by her pants, which came off. Wearing underwear and a tank top, the woman ran to a neighbour's home and called police.

In the meantime, Stacey — who was wearing jeans but no shirt or shoes — went into a nearby Coffee Matters cafe and told staff his girlfriend had hit him with a bat. Though he said he was already on the phone with police, staff reported hearing him call the person on the other end of the phone "Mom," and called 911.

Stacey then ran to a Lawton's drugstore parking lot, where a woman was sitting in her running vehicle and waiting for her mother, who had just gone inside. She said Stacey opened the door, told her, "I need this," and jumped into the driver's seat. He put the car in drive, drove over a curb and struck a pole before getting out and running.

Another woman was in her vehicle in the nearby Dairy Queen parking lot, and said she saw Stacey running toward her, telling her, "Help me, I'm being raped." He opened the car door and got in, trying to climb over the console to get into the driver's seat as the woman got out. Upon hearing police sirens, the man ran, the woman said.

Police arrested Stacey next to a gas station not far away.

"I was under the influence of drugs. I take full responsibility for my actions," Stacey told the court Tuesday, saying he wanted to do "all the programs I can" in order to turn his life around.

Stacey. - SaltWire Network
Stacey. - SaltWire Network

Stacey's lawyer, Karen Rehner, argued for a jail sentence for Stacey of two years minus enhanced credit for the time he has served on remand, which is about 370 days. She pointed out that while Stacey has a criminal record, he has no history of violent crimes. She also stressed Stacey had received a blow to the head when his wife hit him with the bat, asking Justice Donald Burrage to consider "there does seem to be some irrational behaviour following that."

Rehner said Stacey has been unable to participate in any drug programming in prison, partly because he was not eligible while on remand, and partly because of concerns for his safety in group counselling, given the charges against him.

Prosecutor Mike Murray argued for a jail term of between six and seven years for Stacey, minus his credit for time served, telling the court Stacey was "out of control that day" and must be separated from society in order to protect the public.

There's no way to diminish the seriousness of Stacey's assaults on his wife, Murray said.

When it came to the carjackings, Murray urged the judge to consider the terror the victims, both young females, must have felt when a shirtless, incoherent Stacey jumped into their vehicles. Murray said the court has an obligation to deter others from doing a similar thing.

"Carjackings are not that common in this jurisdiction and I would suggest part of the court's role in this sentencing hearing is to send a message to make sure they do not become common or accepted as a normal criminal adventure," he said. "They're rare and they should be kept that way."

Burrage will return with his sentencing decision Feb. 21.

Stacey had originally been charged with attempting to murder his wife, but that charge was dismissed following a preliminary inquiry in December.

Stacey made headlines three years ago when he was charged with second-degree murder for the stabbing death of his coworker, 41-year-old Clifford Comerford. He was later acquitted by a jury.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


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