Disgraced Mountie guilty of obstructing justice
Published Friday, March 23, 2012 5:02PM PDT
Cpl. Benjamin "Monty" Robinson has been found guilty of obstructing justice for thwarting the Delta police officers who tried to determine whether he was drunk when he struck and killed Orion Hutchinson with his Jeep four years ago.
Justice Janice Dillon delivered her verdict Friday in New Westminster Supreme Court, dismissing the disgraced Mountie's defence as "not credible." An overflowing crowd of spectators, including Hutchinson's family, had forced the proceedings to relocate from a smaller courtroom. Crying could be overheard as Robinson's conviction was handed down.
The officer testified that he drank five beers at a Halloween party while off-duty and was driving home with his children when he crashed into 21-year-old Hutchinson's motorcycle in Tsawwassen on Oct. 25, 2008.
He left his driver's licence at the scene, took his kids home and downed two glasses of vodka before returning.
Dillon found that Robinson drank the alcohol to deliberately muddy any investigation into whether he had been driving impaired, then lied to responding officers about how much he'd consumed at the party.
"He knew these statements misled police and put the investigation off-track," Dillon said.
Robinson claimed he wasn't thinking and took the shots to "suppress the pain." The defence also argued the veteran corporal was an alcoholic at the time of the crash, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the media scrutiny over his role in the 2007 Taser death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport.
Hutchinson's mother told reporters outside the court she was pleased by the verdict, but it won't ease her family's pain.
"Nothing can change the grief and the loss that we feel," Judith Hutchinson said. "I have to be so clear about that. This doesn't bring my son back. But there is definitely a sense of satisfaction."
Robinson is due to appear in court next month to nail down a date for a sentencing hearing. Prosecutor Kris Pechet told reporters it was too soon to say what kind of penalty the Crown will seek.
"There's a potential for a jail sentence here," Pechet said. "I can't predict the future, and I'm not going to."
Obstruction of justice convictions can carry a jail term of up to 10 years.
Assistant RCMP Commissioner Norm Lipinski held a press conference Friday, condemning Robinson's behaviour and expressing condolences to Hutchinson's family.
"On behalf of the RCMP I wish to express our sympathy and sorrow for what they've had to go through, and what they continue to go through," Lipinski said in a statement.
Robinson remains the subject of a code of conduct investigation and faces allegations of disgraceful conduct for driving while impaired, failing to remain at the scene and failing to render assistance to the victim.
The corporal testified that he left Hutchinson at the scene because "someone was already there" attending to him.
Robinson's gun and badge were seized after the crash, and he has been on paid suspension ever since, but Lipinski says his commanding officer is seeking his dismissal.
Robinson is currently awaiting trial on a perjury charge related to Dziekansi's death, and is scheduled to make his next appearance in court in that case in April 2013.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber