No jail time was handed to a disgraced former RCMP officer on Friday even as a judge said his attempt to block the police investigation into his role in a fatal motorcycle crash “strikes at the heart of the justice system.”
Veteran RCMP officer Benjamin (Monty) Robinson was sentenced to a one-year conditional term for his obstruction of justice conviction in connection with the October, 2008, accident that killed a 21-year-old. It means he will serve one month under house arrest, with the remainder under the supervision of a probation officer.
The officer, who gained notoriety for being one of four Mounties involved in the taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski, resigned from the RCMP last week on the same day a Crown lawyer asked for his imprisonment.
Family members of victim Orion Hutchinson were not happy with the decision.
“That sentence just felt like he’s being grounded,” Mr. Hutchinson’s mother, Judith, said outside the New Westminster courthouse. “It doesn’t feel like a sentence to me, it feels like that’s not enough.”
Mr. Robinson was driving a vehicle that struck and killed the young man in an intersection of the Vancouver suburb of Delta four years ago.
He was returning with his two young children from a Halloween party, where he had consumed five beers earlier in the night.
After the crash, the off-duty officer left the scene to bring his two children home. While there, he gulped two shots of vodka that he later claimed was simply aimed at calming his nerves.
Judge Janice Dillon of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that drinking the vodka was a deliberate act to mislead the crash investigation, noting the veteran’s extensive RCMP training taught him that drinking booze afterward could potentially mask the alcohol he drank earlier in the night.
At his sentencing, Judge Dillon said the man’s conduct causes one to lose faith in the “protect and serve” police mantra, particularly as he has showed no remorse for the offence or acknowledged any guilt. However, Mr. Robinson’s status as a first-time offender was a factor in Judge Dillon’s decision. She noted that imprisonment would also require protective custody, because he is a former RCMP officer.
Mr. Robinson still faces perjury charges in connection with his testimony at the public inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski’s death at Vancouver’s airport in 2007.