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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mountie’s drunk driving case shifts into total absurdity

December 2, 2009
Gary Mason, Globe and Mail

She could tell you about the pain she deals with – the excruciating reminders of her son Orion's too-short life that she confronts virtually every day. But for now, Judith Hutchinson prefers to keep it to herself.

“Nothing can repair our pain or replace our loss,” Ms. Hutchinson said, speaking for herself and daughter, Daria.

“We can only hope and pray that this case plays out in a way that demands some accountability and brings some justice.”

Yes, this case. This increasingly disturbing case.

Ms. Hutchinson's son died on Oct. 25, 2008. Orion, 21, was driving his motorcycle in the Vancouver suburb of Tsawwassen when he was struck by a vehicle driven by one Monty Robinson. And if the name sounds familiar, it should.

He is RCMP Corporal Benjamin Robinson, the officer in charge during a Mountie takedown of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport in October, 2007, that ended in the Polish immigrant's death.

Cpl. Robinson was off duty when he plowed into Mr. Hutchinson. He blew over the limit when police tested him for alcohol consumption less than two hours after the accident.

Delta police handled the investigation. A matter that is often completed in days when it involves a civilian dragged on for seven months. In June, 2009, the municipal police department recommended charges of impaired and dangerous driving causing death.

But that wasn't the end of it.

The police report was turned over to the criminal justice branch of the Attorney-General's Ministry. And it would be months again before a decision on whether to go ahead with charges was reached. On Tuesday, the Crown decided against charging Cpl. Robinson with impaired driving, but recommended pressing forward with the lesser charge of attempting to obstruct justice.

No reasons were given. No justification for what surely is a head-scratcher given that police felt there was evidence to charge Mr. Robinson with driving while under the influence. Not only that, but the Crown decision also ignored a related judgment made in the Supreme Court of B.C. earlier this year.

Mr. Justice Mark McEwan dismissed a petition by Cpl. Robinson to have the suspension of his driver's licence lifted. (Yes, three days after the accident Mr. Robinson appealed the suspension of his license). The judge looked at all the facts and didn't believe the Mountie's story. Oh, yes, the story. We almost forgot.

Mr. Robinson told police he likely blew over the limit because he left the scene of the accident for 10 minutes to walk his children home. This before police arrived. At home, he said, he downed two shots of vodka. He maintained he had only two beers at a party before the accident.

But the officers at the scene said Mr. Robinson's eyes were bloodshot, pupils dilated and his speech slurred. The judge didn't believe that could have been the result of two shots of vodka 10 minutes earlier. The judge said there wasn't even any evidence that he'd gone home and couldn't imagine him doing so when a young man was dying on the ground.

Obviously, this is a sensitive case because it involves not only an RCMP officer but one at the centre of the Dziekanski case. If the Crown wanted to overturn the recommendations of a police investigation and disregard the observations of a Supreme Court justice it was certainly within its rights to do so. But it also had an obligation to justify itself.

The Crown handles potentially explosive cases all the time. And when it makes a decision on charges, it usually releases an explanatory report. It didn't in this case, saying the matter is before the courts.

This appears to be complete and utter nonsense.

Releasing the report would not have compromised any trial. But it would have meant the Justice Department would have had to reveal why it bought Mr. Robinson's two-shots-of-vodka story when others didn't.

I'm hoping there is another reason the Crown didn't release its full report. One that it can't talk about now.

When this case gets to court, which could take years at the rate it's been travelling, Mr. Robinson could be found guilty of obstruction of justice. The Crown refuses to say what that charge stems from but it usually implies some effort to interfere with or influence an investigation.

A conviction, however, is unlikely to lead to much more than a fine and probation.

As for the accountability and justice that Judith Hutchinson is looking for, at the moment that appears very much in doubt.


Excited-Delirium.com said...

Open Memo: Yeah. Go ahead. Keep pushing it further and further. Maybe you don't know that it is a pendulum. The further you push it one way, the more it is going to hurt *you* when it inevitably starts coming back in the other direction.

Anonymous said...

Not a single hick Nazi RCMPig has been charged with a serious crime in bc's entire history.

They are above the law, but finally people have had enough with this fox watching the henhouse bullshit.

I prey for the day an external comittee drops the axe of consequence on any officer abusing someone JUST THE SAME as would happen to joe citizen now.

RCMP you are a disgrace, your history began abducting native kids by the thousands and handed over to the abusive pedophiles of the catholic church to be bleached of their culture and soul.

It only rolled downhill from there, so stuff it.