British Columbia

Former Kamloops deputy sheriff caught in Creep Hunters sting handed 1 year conditional sentence

A former Kamloops deputy sheriff has been handed a one year conditional sentence stemming from an investigation that was launched after a vigilante group lured him into a sexualized online relationship with a person representing themself as a 14-year-old girl.

Kevin Johnston pleaded guilty to breach of trust following sting by vigilante group posing as 14-year-old girl

Former Kamloops deputy sheriff Kevin Johnston has been sentenced to four months house arrest after pleading guilty to one count of breach of trust

A former Kamloops deputy sheriff has been handed a one year conditional sentence stemming from an investigation that was launched after a vigilante group lured him into a sexualized online relationship with a person who represented themself as a 14-year-old girl.

Kevin Johnston, 50, was convicted of one count of breach of trust after he reached a plea deal with Crown prosecutors last month.

On Tuesday, Judge Michelle Daneliuk followed the recommendations of a joint submission by Crown and defence counsel and handed Johnston a conditional sentence, to be served as four months house arrest, followed by eight months in the community.

"Mr. Johnston intentionally engaged in highly sexualized communications in a manner in which he was very much reckless as to whether the recipient was an adult or a young person of only 14 years, Daneliuk said.

Johnston was originally charged with three counts of communicating with a person believed to be underage for the purpose of facilitating a sexual offence and one count of invitation to sexual touching, after he was caught in a sting by the vigilante group, Creep Hunters. 

The sexual charges were stayed.

Offence sullied the reputation of the B.C. Sheriff's Service

Johnston was working as a deputy sheriff in Kamloops in 2016  when he started communicating with a person online who represented themself as a 14-year-old girl.

The person Johnston was exchanging messages with was a member of the Creep Hunters group.

Over the course of 19 days, he sent sexualized messages, along with photos, including one of himself in his uniform.

Johnston made plans to travel to Kelowna to meet up with the person he was communicating with.

"The discussions about the meeting were immediately following comments about her use of a sex toy and Mr. Johnston wanting photos of her and his suggestion that she would have to act like [Johnston's] niece in public," Daneliuk said.

"In committing this offence, Mr. Johnston has drawn unwanted attention to the sheriff's service and risked sullying the reputation of an honourable agency which serves a vital role within our justice system."

'An aberration'

After his arrest, Johnston resigned from the B.C. Sheriff Service and moved to another community.

He is now working as a landscaper, has stopped drinking alcohol and has been seeing a counsellor.

Daneliuk noted that prior to the offence Johnston had fallen into a state of mental distress, depression and excessive drinking, following the breakdown of his marriage.

"The conduct which lead to the offence before me now was in fact an aberration in the life of someone who had previously and has since conducted himself as a responsible and valuable member of his community," she said.

Under the conditions of the sentence, Johnston will be confined to his home for a duration of four months but allowed to leave for work to attend medical appointments, buy groceries and necessities and take his dog out on walks twice a day.

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan