A Delta Police officer who attended the scene of a fatal accident in Tsawwassen in 2008 testified today (Feb. 14) that RCMP Cpl. Benjamin “Monty” Robinson showed signs of impairment at the scene.
In New Westminster Supreme Court Const. Sarah Swallow said Robinson told her he had consumed a couple of beers earlier in the evening and briefly left the scene of the accident to walk his children home, where he drank two shots of vodka.
Robinson is in court this week facing an obstruction of justice charge. He was off duty when his Jeep struck and killed 21-year-old motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson at Gilchrist Dr. and 6 Ave. in Tsawwassen on Oct. 25, 2008.
Justice Janice Dillon is expected to decide whether or not to exclude from the evidence statements Robinson made to Swallow the night of the accident.
Swallow was dispatched to the scene at 10:17 p.m.
Shortly before 10:30 p.m. Swallow said she observed a male standing close to the Jeep, who advised her he was the driver.
“I noticed that he was pale, that he seemed to have a very dry mouth,” she said. “I smelled alcohol about his person … his eyes were also slightly unfocused.”
She said she moved him to her police car to ask him questions.
Swallow said Robinson twice incorrectly gave his birthdate as 1975 before quickly correcting it to 1970.
“I noticed that the odour of alcohol was still present. He appeared to be slurring slightly,” Swallow said.
She asked him if he had had anything to drink that night.
“Mr. Robinson replied that while he was at home, he had a drink to calm his nerves,” Swallow said.
She said she asked what he meant by drink.
“He replied two shots.”
She asked of what.
“He replied vodka.”
Swallow said she told Robinson his symptoms of alcohol consumption were more established than she felt two shots of vodka in the last 10 minutes would have been.
She said he told her he had been at a Christmas party earlier and had consumed “a couple of beers” at 5:30 p.m. He then corrected himself and said it was actually a Halloween party.
At approximately 11:42 p.m. Swallow said she advised Robinson that the motorcyclist was deceased and that she would be arresting him for impaired driving causing death.
When booking him in at Delta Police headquarters in Ladner, she learned Robinson was a Richmond RCMP officer.
According to Delta Police, Robinson’s breath samples gave readings of .12 and .10 mgs of alcohol. Delta Police recommended charges of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.
The Crown decided not to lay any driving-related charges, concluding the available evidence did not establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt Robinson had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit at the time of the collision, or that his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol, or that he was operating his vehicle in a dangerous manner.
A coroner’s toxicological analysis also reported alcohol in Hutchinson’s blood.
The trial is scheduled to last eight days.