VANCOUVER - The lawyer for an ex-Mountie who lied at a public inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's death is recommending house arrest and community service for his client, calling him a "poster child for failure."
"He's fallen a long way and I think he could bring some insight to others who struggle, particularly in the aboriginal community," said David Crossin, who represents former RCMP corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson.
Robinson was in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday for a sentencing hearing, three months after he was convicted of perjury stemming from testimony he gave at an inquiry into Dziekanski's death at Vancouver's airport.
Crossin recommended Robinson be sentenced to one year of house arrest followed by 12 months of curfew and 200 hours of community service, preferably in the area of drug and alcohol counselling.
Reading from a doctor's submission, Crossin said Robinson suffered from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse when he testified at the inquiry in early 2009, and that he remained in that debilitated state until his trial in 2012.
"It was the conviction in 2012 that brought these matters, in a way, crashing down on Mr. Robinson," Crossin said. "He began in March of 2012 the process of recovery."
Crossin also brought up Robinson's aboriginal heritage as a mitigating factor, as well as his family history of alcohol abuse.
Robinson, who is in his mid-40s, left the RCMP in 2012 and has been sober since then, Crossin said.
The RCMP has held up Robinson as an example of a bad apple in its ranks, and that assessment included a separate, unrelated case when he was convicted of obstruction of justice before he left the force in 2012.
Abused his police training
Robinson was behind the wheel in October 2008 when his vehicle struck and killed a 21-year-old motorcyclist in Delta, south of Vancouver.
He told his trial that immediately after the crash he went home and drank two shots of vodka to calm his nerves.
Robinson was given a conditional sentence of 12 months after a judge ruled he had used his police training to fend off accusations of impaired driving.
"He's come a long way and I think he could do some good," Crossin told court on Tuesday. "I think he could bring a lot of insight, especially to the aboriginal community."
Crown lawyer Richard Peck disagreed with Crossin's proposal and recommended the judge order Robinson to serve between a year and a half and three years behind bars.
"An impassioned plea doesn't change the Crown's position that the appropriate sentence here is a custodial term," Peck said.
Robinson's punishment should be all the more serious because he was a police officer tasked with upholding the law, Peck added.
Sentence coming next month
Justice Nathan Smith has reserved his decision until July 24.
Robinson sat motionless in the prisoners' dock throughout the proceedings, dressed in a black, pinstripe suit. He stood and declined comment when asked by the judge at the conclusion of the hearing if he had anything to say.
Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, attended the hearing, as she has for most of the trial. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue and shook her head while Robinson's lawyer recommended a conditional sentence.
"I am so nervous, so frustrated, so stressed," she later said outside court.
Four Mounties responded in October 2007 to reports of Dziekanski throwing furniture around the international terminal, when he was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and died.
Kwesi Millington was convicted of perjury in February while Bill Bentley and Gerry Rundell were both acquitted of the charge after testifying at the public inquiry.
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