British Columbia

Grim details revealed at sentencing hearing in death of RCMP officer Sarah Beckett

A Colwood, B.C., courtroom heard Kenneth Fenton had been drinking heavily and was speeding through a red light when his truck slammed into Const. Sarah Beckett’s police cruiser in April 2016.

Kenneth Fenton had been drinking heavily before the early morning crash near Victoria

Const. Sarah Beckett was remembered at an emotional ceremony held in a packed hockey arena in Colwood, B.C. (RCMP)

A Colwood, B.C., courtroom heard Kenneth Fenton had been drinking heavily and was speeding through a red light when his truck slammed into Const. Sarah Beckett's police cruiser in April  2016. 

Beckett, 32, was an 11-year veteran of the RCMP and had recently returned from maternity leave after having her second son, when the marked police car she was driving was struck in the Victoria suburb of Langford, B.C.

She was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after the crash.

'A family has been shattered'

Crown attorney Tim Stokes told Kenneth Fenton's sentencing hearing Wednesday that the man's truck was going between 76 and 90 kilometres an hour when it entered the intersection and crashed into Beckett's vehicle. The posted speed limit in the area is 50 kilometres an hour.

"He took a risk. The risk materialized. A family has been shattered," said Stokes.

Kenneth Fenton enters Colwood B.C., court Wednesday morning (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Fenton's truck was being followed by another RCMP vehicle, after that officer noticed the tail lights were out, Stokes said.

Const. Beckett was proceeding through an intersection on a green light, as Fenton's truck was speeding through against a red light, when it struck the driver's side of Const. Beckett's cruiser.

Video from a nearby security camera confirmed Fenton's light had been red for eight seconds before the collision.

Fenton had more than 3.5 times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when blood samples were taken following the crash.

He had been drinking at a friend's home the evening before the crash and was distraught over the recent suicide of a friend.

Husband describes anguish

With tears flowing and hands shaking, Beckett's husband described in court the anguish of grieving for his wife — while raising their two children.

In his victim impact statement, Brad Aschenbrenner said the toughest part of his wife's death was telling his six-year-old son that Mommy wasn't coming home — adding their youngest boy will have no memory at all of his mother.

He has not been able to work and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

Aschenbrenner said he left his family in Idaho to be with Beckett. He is scheduled to get his Canadian citizenship at a ceremony on Friday.

Fenton pleaded guilty last month to charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving causing Beckett's death.

Fenton was also charged with impaired driving in 2010. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of driving without due care and attention.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of three to five years in prison, plus a 10-year driving prohibition.

The scene of the collision in which RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett was killed in the early morning hours of 2016.

With files from Megan Thomas