A Toronto man was handed a life sentence Friday after pleading guilty to the so-called "crossbow killings" of his mother and two brothers last August.
According to a statement of facts agreed upon by both the Crown and defence, Brett Ryan, 36, decided to kill his mother after she threatened to expose that he'd been lying to his fiancee about his education and work history.
He had told his fiancee that he graduated from the University of Toronto with a physics degree in April 2016, and that he'd secured a job at an IT company a month later, the statement said.
In fact, the statement reads, Ryan had taken a semester off from school at the start of the 2015 fall semester, and he was let go from the IT job before it even began because of his criminal record – in 2009, he pleaded guilty to robbing eight banks over an eight-month stretch.
Five days before the murders, he told his mother, Susan Ryan, that he didn't have a job and that he lied to his fiancee, the statement said. Susan Ryan said she'd support him financially for a short time but insisted that he admit his lies to his fiancee.
Brett Ryan planned to marry in September 2016, but he worried that if his fiancee found out about the deceit, their relationship would be finished.
So Ryan planned to kill his mother, the statement reads, and days before her death, he planted a crossbow in his mother's garage.
The statement said Ryan visited his mother on Aug. 25, 2016, to try and convince her – through threats and force, if necessary – not to expose his lies.
An intense argument between the two led the mother to phone her eldest son, Christopher, asking him to come over and help her deal with Brett Ryan.
During the argument – it isn't clear exactly when – Brett Ryan stepped into the garage and got his crossbow. His mother followed, the statement said.
Brett Ryan then stabbed his mother with a crossbow bolt and strangled her to death with a yellow nylon rope, according to the autopsy. When Christopher Ryan arrived at the house, Brett Ryan shot him in the back of the neck with a crossbow, the statement reads.
He hid both of their bodies under a tarp in the garage, the statement said.
Another of the brothers, Alexander Ryan, confronted Brett Ryan as he left the garage. The statement said Brett Ryan then stabbed him with a crossbow bolt and left him bleeding on their driveway.
He later died of his wounds, autopsy reports said.
Leighland Ryan, a third brother, was inside the house when the murders happened. He called for help after seeing Brett Ryan standing over Alexander Ryan's body, the statement said.
Brett Ryan followed him back into the house and assaulted him, the statement reads, to get rid of any witnesses. Leighland Ryan survived, fled the house and managed to get to a neighbour's house, who called police.
The statement said Brett Ryan was arrested by police near the front steps of his mother's home.
"The guys in the garage are dead. Crossbow to the head. It's me. I'm admitting to everything," Ryan said to police at the time, according to the statement.
Ryan pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree murder and attempted murder, as well as two counts of second-degree murder.
John Rosen, one of Ryan's defence lawyers, said he could have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 61 years, but the judge gave Ryan concurrent sentences.
He will be eligible for parole in 25 years.