BRITISH COLUMBIA

Crown wants 3-year sentence for Mountie guilty of lying about Dziekanski's death

05/07/2015 02:05 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - When Zofia Cisowski immigrated to Canada she saw the RCMP as the symbol of democracy and trust, but that was destroyed in the years since officers jolted her son with a Taser, a court has heard.

"My faith in the honesty of the RCMP has forever been shaken," said the mother's letter read at the sentencing of RCMP Const. Kwesi Millington on Thursday.

Millington was convicted of perjury for lying under oath during a public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death at Vancouver's airport in October 2007.

His defence lawyer opposed allowing Cisowski to read her victim-impact statement into the record.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke rejected the argument that Cisowski didn't qualify as a victim because Millington's crime was against the "administration of justice."

"It is difficult to put into a few or any words how the perjury of Mr. Millington has impacted me," Ehrcke read from Cisowski's writing.

"When I came to Canada I saw the RCMP as the main symbol of Canada and what it stood for, a democracy where people could always trust the police," she wrote.

Crown prosecutor Scott Fenton told the hearing that the disgraced Mountie convicted of lying about the high-profile death of Dziekanski should spend up to three years in prison.

Fenton said Millington's punishment should take into account the seriousness of his offence, that his testimony was vital to the public inquiry and that his perjury was planned, deliberate and sustained.

"It was not an emotional, immediate, knee-jerk response to a question," he said. "It continued over three days. The accused had ample time to prepare for the inquiry."

The Crown argued Millington's position of authority, as well as his apparent lack of remorse, were aggravating factors that demanded a more serious punishment than the conditional sentence recommended by defence.

"Perjury is something that strikes at the heart or the core of the administration of justice," Fenton said. "Perjury committed by a police officer is even more serious."

Millington and Cpl. Benjamin (Monty) Robinson were each convicted of perjury earlier this year. They were among four officers who responded to reports of Dziekanski throwing furniture at the international arrivals area before he was stunned with a Taser by police and died.

Constables Gerry Rundel and Bill Bentley were each acquitted of perjury charges, though the Crown is appealing the verdict in Bentley's case. Rundel attended Thursday's sentencing hearing to support Millington.

Perjury carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Millington's defence lawyer Ravi Hira opposed imprisonment and argued that his client would be better served by a one-year conditional sentence in the community.

Hira cited mitigating factors to support his recommendation, namely that Millington is a first-time offender and that he is of good character, as evidenced by the dozens of reference letters provided by friends, family and colleagues.

Millington declined comment when asked by Justice Ehrcke whether he had anything to say.

Cisowski said outside the court that she hopes Millington spends time behind bars.

"That is not right, a conditional sentence," said Cisowski. "They killed my son."

None of the officers involved was ever charged in relation to Dziekanski's death.

A sentencing hearing for Millington has been scheduled for June 22.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter