Former Mountie Benjamin Monty Robinson has received a 12-month conditional sentence for his obstrucion of justice conviction in New Westminster Supreme Court.
The judge, Justice Janice Dillon, has indicated that Robinson will be under house arrest until Aug. 31 and has been ordered to pay a $1,000 victim surcharge fee.
Robinson’s Aboriginal status was cited as the reason for not ordering jail time.
His sentence means he will spend one month under house arrest. The remainder of his sentence will be subject to a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Robinson has also been ordered to write a letter of apology to family, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and finish the rehab program he has been enroled in at the Edgewood facility.
The 42-year-old was convicted this spring of obstruction of justice in the October 2008 death of 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson from Tsawwassen.
Robinson was driving home when his vehicle collided with Hutchinson’s motorcycle at the intersection of 6th Ave, and Gilchrist Dr.
He told the court he left the scene of the accident to walk his two children home where he downed two shots of vodka to calm his nerves.
In her reasons for sentencing Justice Dillon said Robinson’s crime is at a significant serious level as he left the scene of an accident and, knowing the extent of his jeopardy, acted to mislead police.
“While the sudden and serious nature of the accident while Robinson’s children were in the car might explain Robinson’s reaction to some extent and lower his moral culpability, his conduct was nonetheless deliberate and calculated,” Dillon said. “He used his knowledge learned as a police officer to mislead investigators: he made a choice.”
During the trial, the court heard testimony from Anne Rough, a Richmond high school teacher who graduated from South Delta Secondary School in 1988—the same year as Robinson—testified she overheard Robinson telling a small group of people how to best avoid a drunk driving charge at an annual Christmas party in Tsawwassen held one year before the accident.
“If ever you are drinking and driving and you come upon a road block, you should carry a small bottle of mouthwash and guzzle it before you go through the roadblock because, if you do so, the alcohol content will throw off the breathalyzer, if they administer one to you,” Rough recalled Robinson saying.
According to Delta Police, Robinson’s breath samples gave readings of .12 and .10 mgs of alcohol (the legal limit is .08).
A coroner’s toxicological analysis also reported alcohol in Hutchinson’s blood.
The engineering analysis found Robinson was travelling between 24 and 29 km/h at the time of the collision, and showed Hutchinson was travelling between 66 and 96 km/hr.
Said coroner Mark Coleman, “Speed and alcohol intoxication on the part of Mr. Hutchinson were contributing factors. Alcohol intoxication on the part of the driver of the Jeep is also believed to be a contributing factor.”
Justice Dillon, in her reasons for sentencing, said Robinson’s conduct, “discredited the police at a time when police conduct generally was under intense public scrutiny.”
Dillon added that imprisonment should be a last resort, “especially in the case of Aboriginal offenders.”
Speaking reporters outside the court, Hutchinson’s mother, Judith (pictured below), said the sentence felt like Robinson was being grounded.
“It doesn’t feel like a sentence to me,” Judith Hutchinson said. ” It feels like that’s not enough. It’s very frustrating.”
Hutchinson added her family does not want Robinson’s letter of apology.
Adele Tompkins, executive director of the B.C. Coalition of Motorcyclists who attended the sentencing, said she was hoping for a six-month jail sentence, adding the case,”impacts the whole community.”
“We represent the motorcyclists as Orion was a motorcyclist, but it’s everyone “
Tompkins added the she thought the general public will be disappointed and, “motorcyclists will be horrified,” by the sentencing.
When asked if the Crown was satisfied with the sentence, prosecutor Kris Pechet said: “I can’t really make any comment on that. That’s for the media and the public to decide, not the prosecutor.”
And when questioned about a possible appeal, Pechet said these cases are always reviewed.
“…and if the collective wisdom of the Crown is unsatisfied and if there is an important point of law the matter can be appealed,” added Pechet. “I can’t make any comment as to whether that would occur in this case.”
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