The RCMP officer involved in the 2008 collision that killed 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson is on trial, but the charges aren’t what you’d expect.
RCMP corporal Benjamin “Monty” Robinson is on trial in B.C.’s Supreme Court for obstruction of justice; the Crown alleges Robinson used his knowledge of legal procedures to beat impaired driving charges following the accident.
At the time of the accident, Robinson was driving his two children in his Jeep when he struck Hutchinson; according to CBC News, Hutchinson told a witness to the accident’s aftermath that he was going to take his children to his nearby home, then return to the scene. He handed his license to the bystander, walked off with his children, and returned a few minutes later.
According to a report in the Vancouver Sun, when he returned, Delta police constable Sarah Swallow testified that Robinson’s speech was slurred and his eyes were unfocused. When she asked him if he’d been drinking, Robinson said he’d had a couple of shots of vodka at home to calm his nerves.
She then told him his signs of impairment didn’t match that story, and he told her he’d also had a couple of beers at a friend’s Christmas party at 5:30 p.m., then corrected himself and said it was a Halloween party.
Swallow said she arrived at the accident scene at 10:24 p.m. When Robinson was administered a breathalyzer, he blew .12 first, then .10 a few minutes later; the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08.
Robinson’s lawyer says Swallow did not advise Robinson of his right to legal counsel before he told her of the vodka, so Swallow’s testimony should not be allowed.
At the trial, the Crown is alleging that Robinson beat a drunk driving rap with his knowledge of how the system works; Crown witnesses are expected to testify that in a 2005 training course, Robinson was instructed that it was possible to beat a drinking and driving charge if the driver consumed alcohol after the accident. The Crown prosecutor says one witness will testify that at a 2007 party, Robinson said the best way to beat an impaired driving charge is to leave your license at the scene of the accident to avoid charges of leaving the scene, and then consume alcohol.
This isn’t the first time Robinson has been surrounded by controversy. Robinson was the senior officer on duty when four RCMP members tasered and wrestled Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport. Dziekanski died at the airport after the incident, and following an inquiry, Robinson and three other RCMP officers are now facing perjury charges stemming from their testimony during the Braidwood Inquiry into the Dziekanski matter.
A Special Prosecutor indicated there was no reasonable prospect of conviction for any potential charge relating to the tasering itself but recommended the perjury charges in relation to their testimony before Justice Braidwood. Jury selection in that charge is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2012. The allegations remain outstanding and have not been proven in court.