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A former Kelowna Mountie who pursued relationships with vulnerable women while on the job has been given a conditional sentence of nine months.

Brian Burkett’s actions were discreditable but not deserving of jail time, Judge Michelle Danyluk said Tuesday.

“There are some lines that must not be crossed and you crossed that line not once, but seven times,” Danyluk told Burkett.

Burkett, who pleaded guilty to a charge of breach of trust, has shown remorse and hasn’t been in trouble with the law since his ill-fated attempts to pursue women in 2015 and 2016, Danyluk noted as she decided not to impose a custodial sentence.

“You do not presently present a risk to the community,” Danyluk told Burkett.

Burkett, who now lives in Alberta, told the judge he understands that if he breaches any of the conditions she imposed he would be sent to jail to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Although he pleaded guilty to just one omnibus count of breach of trust, Danyluk said Burkett had improperly pursued relationships with seven women while working as a member of the RCMP in Kelowna.

In each case, Danyluk said, Burkett used his authority as an RCMP officer to get the women’s telephone numbers. He then started contacting them “to pursue some sort of relationship with them,” Danyluk said.

“This was not a single momentary lapse of judgment but a repeated pattern of conduct,” Danyluk said.

A few of Burkett’s victims said their experience dealing with him had left them with “fundamentally altered” lives, she said. They no longer trust the police and struggle with mental health issues, she said.

The public needs to feel confident that when they deal with police they are treated in a respectful and professional way, Danyluk said, and Burkett’s conduct fell far short of that standard.

The Crown had asked Burkett be sentenced to up to a year in custody. The defence asked for a conditional sentence of six months.

(The Kelowna Daily Courier)

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