VANCOUVER - The lies a former Mountie told a public inquiry damaged the reputation of the RCMP and undermined confidence in the once-trusted institution, a B.C. Supreme Court judge said Friday.
Justice Nathan Smith sentenced former corporal Benjamin "Monty'' Robinson to two years less a day, one year of probation and 240 hours of community service for lying to the inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski.
Late Friday, his lawyer David Crossin said in an email that an appeal of the conviction has been filed, citing a number of errors by the trial judge. Robinson was released from custody pending the appeal.
He was the senior officer in charge on Oct. 14, 2007, when Dziekanski was jolted with a Taser and died at Vancouver's airport.
Smith found him guilty last March, ruling he colluded with fellow officers to make up testimony that they gave at the inquiry.
"The impact of this offence on the community has been primarily to the reputation and credibility of the police force in which Mr. Robinson served,'' Smith told the court. "Confidence and trust in the police is crucial to the proper functioning of the justice system and society in general.''
Smith illustrated his point by reading part of the victim-impact statement of Dziekanski's mother.
Zofia Cisowski said that when she came to this country she saw the RCMP as the main symbol of Canada and what it stood for, a democracy where people could always trust the police.
Cisowski said that she didn't feel the same way anymore because of the untruths told by police connected to her son's case.
Outside court, Cisowski held up a page from the inquiry's report that had a photo of her son. It was the last picture taken of him, she said.
Cisowski said she was so happy with the sentence that she could barely talk.
She said she has no respect for the RCMP, adding though, "Some of them are good. I cannot say everybody is bad.''
The officers were called to Vancouver's airport after reports that Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who spoke no English, was throwing furniture.
Within seconds of their arrival, Dziekanski was jolted several times with a Taser and died on the floor of the arrivals terminal.
The Crown claimed during the trial that the officers concocted a story to give to homicide investigators and then lied to the public inquiry to explain why their first statements didn't match with the amateur video that was later released.
When he found Robinson guilty in March, Smith noted that all the officers made similar mistakes, including their incorrect claim that Dziekanski was wrestled to the ground. The judge said the only explanation was that the Mounties worked together on their stories.
"I simply do not believe that a police officer of his experience could make such a crucial mistake in these circumstances,'' Smith ruled.
Bad apple within RCMP ranks
Each of the four officers involved were tried separately for perjury. Robinson and Const. Kwesi Millington were found guilty, while the two other officers were acquitted.
Millington, was given a 30-month prison sentence, but has been granted bail while he appeals the conviction.
Robinson was also convicted of obstruction of justice in a separate trial after the vehicle he was driving hit and killed a young motorcyclist in October 2008.
The man's troubles led the RCMP to single him out as a bad apple within its ranks. He left the force in 2012.
Gordon Comer, the spokesman for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch, said the judge emphasized the principles of deterrence and denunciation for Robinson, while also considering the sentence longer given to Millington.
"I think he wanted to give the opportunity to Mr. Robinson to give something back to the community,'' Comer added. "He had offered to try and do some work in the area of alcohol rehabilitation with aboriginal people, and that he had rehabilitated himself in terms of alcohol issues.''
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