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.
Robinson 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 four 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 what has happened to that confidence 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 doesn’t feel the same way anymore because of the untruths told by police connected to her son’s case.
“Perjury is a serious offence because it strikes at the heart of the justice system and undermines the administration of justice,” said Smith.
The officers were called to Vancouver’s airport after reports that Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who spoke no English, started 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.
Robinson, dressed in a dark suit and tie, walked to the back of the courtroom with a sheriff and was then placed in handcuffs. His lawyers didn’t speak to the media after the sentencing or indicate if there would be an appeal.
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.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Robinson was convicted last month.