Update: Mountie pleads not guilty to obstruction of justice
RCMP Cpl. Benjamin "Monty" Robinson pleaded not guilty to one count of obstructing justice in relation to the 2008 collision that killed 21-year-old Tsawwassen resident Orion Hutchinson.
Robinson's trial began Monday (Feb. 13) in New Westminster Supreme Court. The small courtroom was packed with media, the victim's emotional family members, and motorcycle riders—many of them wearing leather jackets to show their support for Hutchinson.
Robinson was off duty when his Jeep collided with Hutchinson's motorcycle at Gilchrist Dr. and 6 Ave. on Oct. 25, 2008. Robinson allegedly left the scene of the incident and walked home, where he claimed to have consumed two shots of vodka to calm his nerves before returning to the crash site.
Crown prosecutor Kris Pechet said he plans to call one witness to the stand who will testify that at a 2007 Christmas party, Robinson said the best way to beat a drunk driving charge is to leave your licence at the accident scene, quickly down a few shots at home or a nearby bar, then return to the scene and say you took the shots to calm your nerves.
The Crown called five witnesses to the stand on Monday.
The host of the Halloween party Robinson attended on Wallace Avenue the evening of the accident, Debbie Seberry, recalled Robinson arrived between 5 and 6 p.m. with two of his children, aged 12 and seven. Seberry said she sent Robinson out to purchase alcohol for the adults and he returned with red wine for her, Miller Genuine Draft for her boyfriend, and a six-pack of Brahma beer for himself. Though she recalled seeing him with a drink during the evening, she could not remember how much he had consumed.
She said Robinson left the party around 10 p.m. when one of his children got tired.
Crown also called witness Robert Very to the stand who was walking with his girlfriend and dog in the area that night. Very said while walking he heard the sound of a motorcycle.
"And then there was dead silence and a massive explosion we first though was a bomb," Very recalled. He said he turned around and could see debris falling to the ground.
Very claims Robinson approached him at the scene with his driver's licence in hand.
"This man was being insistent that he give me what he had in his hands," said Very. He said Robinson told him he wanted to walk his kids home and would return to the scene.
Very said he took Robinson's licence then dialled 911 at 10:13 p.m. and gave the licence to a police officer who attended the scene.
According to Delta Police, Robinson's breath samples gave readings of .12 and .10 mgs of alcohol. Delta Police recommended charges of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.
The Crown decided not to lay any driving-related charges, concluding the available evidence did not establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt Robinson had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit at the time of the collision, or that his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol, or that he was operating his vehicle in a dangerous manner.
A coroner's toxicological analysis also reported alcohol in Hutchinson's blood.
Two Delta police officers who were dispatched to the accident also testified Monday.
One of them was Const. Ken Usipiuk, who was tasked with checking on the wellbeing of Robinson's children at their nearby home. Accompanied by paramedics, Usipiuk said the two children were "seemingly calm," though paramedics decided the children should go to hospital for further examination.
Usipiuk said he did not see any alcohol bottles out in the home.
Defence lawyer David Crossin has not yet had a chance to call any witnesses to the stand.
The trial is being heard by Justice Janice Dillon and is expected to wrap up early next week.
Surrey resident Adele Tompkins, who is executive director of the B.C. Coalition of Motorcyclists, said though she did not know Hutchinson personally, the motorcycle community is "tight knit."
"We're all looking for some form of justice for Orion," she said during a break. "I think this just really touched a nerve. Mostly that an RCMP officer who's trained as a first responder would not even go and see if he (Hutchinson) was alive."
Tompkins said police officers are held to higher moral standards, and need to meet those standards.
"I would like to see Monty Robinson lose his badge. I don't see how he could ever be trusted. I know I could never trust him to do something in my best interest as a citizen," she said.
The trial is scheduled to resume tomorrow morning.
For updates on this story, visit southdeltaleader.com.