VANCOUVER — A former Mountie convicted of perjury in relation to the death of a Polish man at Vancouver’s airport in 2007 has lost his appeal.
In a two-to-one decision, a panel of Appeal Court judges in British Columbia upheld a lower court’s decision that found Benjamin (Monty) Robinson lied during a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Dziekanski.
“The judge’s findings cannot in my view be said to have been unreasonable,” Justice Mary Newbury wrote for the majority.
Robinson was the senior of four officers called to the Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007, after Dziekanski, who did not speak English and had arrived almost 10 hours earlier, began throwing furniture in the arrivals terminal.
Officers used a stun gun repeatedly on Dziekanski and he was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Robinson’s lawyer, David Crossin, argued during the appeal that the Crown’s allegations that the officers colluded on a story and then lied at the inquiry into the death were based on circumstantial evidence.
Crossing said the trial judge failed to properly consider some of the evidence presented in court, including testimony from Robinson that Dziekanski had to be wrestled to the ground and that he had swung the stapler in a threatening manner. Crossin also disputed the judge’s finding that his client had a motive to lie, but Newbury dismissed those arguments.
“I have little doubt that ‘viewed through the lens of judicial experience,’ the appellant had a ‘clear reason and motive to deny’ that he and his colleagues had discussed the incident and colluded in their evidence before the inquiry,” she wrote, citing the earlier decision. “The court was not left with any reasonable doubt on this point.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Peter Willcock took issue with the trial judge’s decision to consider bystander video of the incident as conclusive evidence that the officers all lied.
“I do not share my colleagues’ view that the trial judge’s conclusion was founded upon careful consideration of the (bystander) video and the evidence of the eyewitnesses,” he said.
The trial judge found that some gestures in the video were hidden from view and therefore it is unreasonable to dismiss the suggestion that something in Dziekanski’s demeanour might have been perceived as aggressive or combative, he added.
“The same uncertainty, in my view, should have coloured his assessment of the use of the stapler depicted in the … video,” he said.
All four officers who confronted Dziekanski were charged with perjury. Two were acquitted, while Kwesi Millington and Robinson were convicted. Millington’s appeal was dismissed last July in a unanimous decision.
Robinson, who was held up by the force as a bad apple in its ranks, was discharged from the RCMP in 2012. His departure came shortly after he was convicted of obstruction of justice in an unrelated case where he was involved in a crash that killed a 21-year-old motorcyclist.
Robinson told the ensuing trial that immediately after the crash he went home and drank two shots of vodka to “calm his nerves.” A judge gave him a conditional sentence of 12 months after finding that Robinson had used his RCMP training to try and fend off accusations of impaired driving.
Robinson was sentenced to just under two years in jail for his perjury conviction.
— Follow @gwomand on Twitter
Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press
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