A former Surrey RCMP constable who pleaded guilty to breach of public trust after getting caught up in a Surrey Creep Catcher sting in Whalley in 2016 has been sentenced to a four-month conditional “jail sentence to be served in the community,” followed by 12 months probation.
Following lawyers’ submissions on Sept. 11, Judge James Sutherland made his decision this morning in Surrey Provincial Court.
As part of his “jail sentence to be served in the community,” Devic will be under house arrest for the first two months but was granted the condition that he can drive his kids “directly” to and from school, or to “travel directly to and return directly from a place of employment,” and he must provide “written proof of employment and the related hours if requested to do so.”
Currently, Devic is unemployed, the court heard.
During the second two months of his sentence, Devic will have a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and cannot consume alcohol or drugs during the entire four-month period.
Sutherland ruled that Devic does not have to provide a DNA sample and ordered him to perform 120 hours of community service.
Devic is not at a high risk to re-offend, the judge found, noting since the offence Devic has undergone 37 hours of counselling sessions and is “remorseful.”
The former Surrey RCMP officer was arrested on Sept. 9, 2016 after Surrey Creep Catchers, a citizen group that aims to weed out “potential predators” and “blast” them in social media, did a sting outside a local mall. He was arrested the next day.
The court heard a 30-year-old woman, Danielle Van Vliet, working with Surrey Creep Catchers, placed a “personals” ad on Craigslist, with a photo of Van Vliet — aka “Candace” — with her age being listed as 18.
Van Vliet posed as a 15-year-old girl and communicated with Devic online after posting her bogus Craigslist ad, the court heard.
Sutherland noted the Devic and Van Vliet exchanged roughly 200 emails before planning the meetup, where the sting took place.
Sutherland concluded that Devic’s conduct was “not spontaneous or impulsive,” but was rather “methodical and calculated.”
He was communicating with the woman while on duty, at times, the court heard.
“The offences have the collateral consequence of tarnishing the reputation of the RCMP and police, generally,” said Sutherland, “despite the reality that the vast majority of police officers perform their work with integrity, dedication and professionalism. Finally, Mr. Devic placed at risk the confidence and trust the broader community has in police officers.”
Sutherland noted Devic had no previous criminal record and had an “unblemished record” as an officer.
“He is of good character according to the authors of the numerous character letters, and he has the continued support of family and friends. Mr. Devic has already suffered immensely from the collateral consequences of his offence. Some of those consequences, however, for example loss of his job, should’ve been obvious to him at the time,” the judge concluded.
Sutherland said Devic was “entrusted by the public with powers and influence not afforded to ordinary citizens” and “abused that trust by using his status as a police officer for a purpose other than public good. In my view, Mr. Devic’s offending was more of a direct hit to the public interest than other cases.”
Devic, found Sutherland, “must’ve known the consequences of his actions while doing them.
“He would’ve been aware that using his position as a police officer to facilitate an online sexual relationship with someone who represented herself to be underage would have serious consequences.”
Sutherland said “there’s no question Mr. Devic has suffered immensely and already paid a price for his offending. His baseline character suggests the offence was an aberration when he simply lost his way. That character and his rehabilitative efforts and all he has lost, supports the conclusion that there is little risk in re-offending.”
But, Sutherland said, the court must send “a clear message that those who are entrusted with law enforcement authority and responsibility will receive significant sentences” when that trust is broken.
Outside the courthouse, Crown Counsel Dan McLaughlin “was not quite what the Crown was advocating for, but we respect the process which led to this result.”
The Crown had sought a one-year conditional sentence order (CSO), instead of the four months given, for the former cop. The defence wanted a conditional discharge.
Asked by reporters why Crown was agreeable to a jail sentence served in the community, instead of in-custody, McLaughlin said “the sentencing process is a complex and often times controversial process involving the balancing between what we submitted in this case were the overarching principles of deterrence and denunciation along with the personal circumstances of the offender.”
Crown Counsel Dan McLaughlin reacts to Dario Devic’s jail sentence to be served in the community. And why Crown was agreeable to it being served outside of a traditional jail. #surreybc pic.twitter.com/iAS4yLSYpr
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) October 19, 2018
McLaughlin noted that in this case, the court concluded this sentence would “send a clear message to the community that behaviour of this type will be met with serious consequences.”
He added: “It’s always a challenge arriving at the appropriate balance between ensuring that the sentence is just and proportionate to the gravity of the offence. In this case, the court has determined the four-month sentence is an appropriate deterrent and serves to denounce the unlawful behaviour in this case.”
Outside court, defence lawyer Rishi Gill said the ruling was a “very reasonable decision.”
“I think what should be emphasized is that the judge was very clear that Mr. Devic is of exemplary character, that he’s well supported in the community,” said Gill. “That he made a very big error in judgment and he’s now paying the consequences. What’s key, and what I think should be emphasized is that the court stated on the record that Mr. Devic is not a risk to society but that a message had to be sent.”
Former cop Dario Davic’s defence lawyer Rishi Gill reacts to the sentence of four months jail time, served in the community, after his client earlier pleaded guilty to breach of trust charge. #SurreyBC pic.twitter.com/osJM4UMfvz
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) October 19, 2018
Gill noted the judge “gave a sentence that was, in effect, one third of the sentence the Crown asked for, which we’re very happy with” and said “Mr. Devic can now move forward.”
“(Devic) has always recognized that he did disgrace the uniform, if I can put it that way, and he’s prepared to pay his pennants, and he’s done that. So in that sense, we are satisfied.”
Devic will have a criminal record, Gill noted.
“Given the pace of technology, this isn’t going to go away. You can’t expunge your past,” said Gill. “Mr. Devic will live with this for a long time.”
Last month, Devic told the court, “I’m truly and deeply sorry I have put myself in this situation and everybody around me.”
“The community expects the best from all police officers,” he said, tearing up. “It is not easy to deal with what has happened.”
“I have always been proud to be a Mountie,” Devic told the court, adding his actions should not reflect on other police officers, whom he’s proud to have served with. “They also deserve an apology for my behaviour.”
“I hope that from this day on I can be worthy of their love,” he told the court, adding it’s difficult to see other people suffering because of his actions and that he “wholeheartedly” takes responsibility for them.
“I will always have this hanging above my head,” he said. He will have to tell his children about it one day, he told the court.
“I hope to once again be a positive role model for my kids.”
Devic’s wife Adisa Devic, who also addressed the court last month, stood by her man.
“I’m still proud to call myself Mrs. Dario Devic,” she said.