It was, in a disappointing and heartbreaking way, as effective as advertised.
For his role in the crash that claimed the life of 21-year-old Tsawwassenite Orion Hutchinson, and for his actions in the aftermath of that collision, former Mountie Monty Robinson has been given a 12-month conditional sentence. Once he gets out of a treatment centre at the end of the month, his punishment will include a 9 p.m. curfew, abstaining from alcohol, paying a $1,000 fine and writing a letter to the Hutchinson family.
So much for accountability. As much as there's truth in the notion that Robinson turned to the bottle for comfort during the time in his life when the fatal crash occurred, it was also readily apparent his actions following the collision were rooted in self-preservation. During the trial the court heard how Robinson told people at a party how to beat an impaired driving rap and in the moments after the crash, he followed his own advice.
As a result, he never faced any charges for his driving or the collision itself, only obstruction of justice for his subsequent actions. When it was laid, we were told it was still a serious charge, that if convicted it would carry more than a slap on the wrist. It's hard to believe that any more.
I thought Judith Hutchinson, Orion's mother, summed it up well when she likened the sentence to a child being grounded.
Now that this case has finally come to a conclusion, there are a couple of components that still trouble me. The first is the fact Robinson, an off-duty police officer no less, left Orion Hutchinson on the side of the road to die. Yes, he had his children with him, and yes, there were others on the scene in short order, but it was clear Robinson was looking out for himself and not the fatally injured young man.
The second is how effective the "I had a couple shots of vodka at home" defence turned out to be. The judge readily acknowledged that Robinson had done so to avoid impaired driving-related charges, yet it worked.
It's difficult to say what the outcome of court proceedings would have been given both drivers had alcohol in their system, but it's entirely possible Robinson's fate would have been worse had he stayed at the scene.
A driver doesn't get away with refusing to provide a breath sample at a roadblock, so neither should a driver that returns to the scene claiming to have consumed alcohol after the fact. It would be nice to see that loophole plugged in Orion's memory.
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