British Columbia

RCMP seeks to fire B.C. Mountie guilty of obstruction

The RCMP's commanding officer in B.C. is seeking the dismissal from the force of an officer who has been found guilty of obstructing justice in connection to a fatal traffic accident in which he was involved.

Cpl. Monty Robinson was involved in traffic accident while off duty

Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson has been convicted of attempting to obstruct justice after a fatal collision with motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson, 21, while off duty in October 2008. (CBC)

The RCMP's commanding officer in B.C. is seeking the dismissal from the force of Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson, who was found guilty Friday of obstruction of justice in connection to a fatal traffic accident in which he was involved while off duty.

Assistant RCMP Commissioner Norm Lipinski told reporters after Robinson's verdict was handed down that he now faces a series of disciplinary hearings, and that Lipinski had discussed the matter with Commanding Officer Craig Callens.

"The commanding officer is seeking his dismissal," Lipinski said.

Justice Janice Dillon ruled Robinson deliberately obstructed the investigation of the collision that killed motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson, 21, in 2008.

Robinson was driving his Jeep when it collided with Hutchinson's motorcycle in an intersection in the suburb south of Vancouver.

During the trial the court heard how Robinson told officers at the scene that he went home after the crash and had two drinks of vodka. The defence argued Robinson had the drinks because he was an alcoholic, not because he was trying to interfere with the investigation.

But the Crown argued he took drinks to frustrate any investigation into whether he had been drinking and driving, and the judge agreed.

Orion Hutchinson was killed when his motorcycle collided with a Jeep. (Courtesy of the Hutchinson family/RCMP)

The judge said she found his act of drinking the two shots of  vodka and telling the police officers at the scene about it  "willfully designed to set up the defence he learned during his police training."

Robinson knew that would make it impossible to extrapolate what he drank before he drove, she said.

Dillon also concluded that Robinson had lied to officers at the scene about having two beers before driving, when he had actually had five, and that he had been wilfully vague in describing the exact amount of vodka he had drunk.

Scathing indictment

The family of Orion Hutchinson broke into tears as the judge delivered the scathing indictment of Robinson's credibility.

Robinson's conduct was "quite apart from what one would expect" from a trained off duty police officer, Dillon said, and called his use of his children to explain why he fled the fatal crash an "inexplicable perversion."

Robinson's two children were in his vehicle at the time of the crash, and he told police he gave his driver's licence to witnesses and took them home immediately after the crash to protect them from the incident. He testified that was when he had the drinks to steady his nerves before returning to the crash site.

Outside the court Orion Hutchinson's mother Judith said Robinson should now face consequences from the courts and from the RCMP.

"The RCMP should immediately suspend him without pay and terminate him and then do an internal investigation of their own, which should have been done two years ago," Hutchinson said.

Lipinski said the RCMP extended its condolences to the Hutchinson family.

"I can only imagine how difficult this process has been for the family of Orion Hutchinson. On behalf of the RCMP I wish to express our sympathy and sorrow for what they’ve had to go through, and what they continue to go through," Lipinski said.

Robinson is expected to be sentenced at a later date. The maximum sentence is 10 years, but neither the Crown nor family would speak to what penalty they hoped for.

A coroner's investigation also concluded in 2010 that Hutchinson, the motorcycle driver, was also impaired and speeding at the time of the crash.

Robinson is one of four officers charged in the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was jolted several times with a Taser at Vancouver's airport in 2007. All four are scheduled to stand trial on perjury charges in 2013.