B.C. man gets four years in pri­son for drunk driv­ing death of Moun­tie

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

A man was sen­tenced to four years in pri­son Fri­day for the death of an RCMP of­fi­cer who was killed when a truck rammed her cruiser near Vic­to­ria last year.

Ken­neth Fen­ton, 29, has also been banned from driv­ing and pro­hib­ited from own­ing a weapon for 10 years for the death of RCMP Const. Sarah Beck­ett.

Pro­vin­cial court Judge Ron­ald Lam­per­son said to his knowl­edge, it is the first case of drink­ing and driv­ing caus­ing the death of a po­lice of­fi­cer in Bri­tish Columbia.

He said the “tragic case” touched the en­tire Van­cou­ver Is­land com­mu­nity.

Beck­ett, a 32-year-old mother of two boys, had re­cently re­turned from ma­ter­nity leave when she was killed in Lang­ford, a sub­urb of Vic­to­ria, in April 2016.

Fen­ton was handed the fouryear term for im­paired driv­ing caus­ing death and three years for dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing death. The judge or­dered that the sen­tences be served con­cur­rently.

The court heard that Fen­ton had been drink­ing at a friend’s house be­fore he sped through a red light in his truck, slam­ming into Beck­ett’s cruiser on the driver’s side. His blood al­co­hol was later mea­sured at .287 mil­ligrams of al­co­hol in 100 millil­itres of blood, more than three times the le­gal limit.

An­other of­fi­cer who had been pur­su­ing Fen­ton be­cause his tail lights were out de­scribed the crash as an “ex­plo­sion,” Lam­per­son said.

In his sum­mary of the ev­i­dence, the judge said Fen­ton re­fused to give a blood sam­ple later that morn­ing at a hospi­tal and de­nied to a psy­chi­a­trist that he had an al­co­hol ad­dic­tion. Fen­ton also said Beck­ett had “come out of nowhere” and “T-boned him,” Lam­per­son said.

Fen­ton pleaded guilty in May to im­paired driv­ing caus­ing death and dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing death.

Beck­ett’s hus­band, Brad Aschen­bren­ner, was in the pub­lic gallery for the sen­tenc­ing. Bent over and breath­ing heav­ily in the front row, he was un­able to stand when the judge en­tered the court.

Aschen­bren­ner told Fen­ton’s ear­lier sen­tenc­ing hear­ing that he lost the love of his life and the mother of their young sons, Lu­cas and Em­mett.

The hard­est thing af­ter his wife’s death was telling six-yearold Lu­cas “mommy wasn’t com­ing home,” Aschen­bren­ner said.

The judge also out­lined some of the vic­tim im­pact state­ments and let­ters from Fen­ton’s fam­ily that de­scribed him as a kind and re­spect­ful man whose fam­ily has been at­tacked ver­bally since his ar­rest.

Fen­ton apol­o­gized to Beck­ett’s fam­ily in a let­ter to the court and said he would trade places with her if he could.

“Clearly there is no sen­tence I can im­pose that will bring con­sta­ble Beck­ett back or ad­dress the pain that her fam­ily and friends con­tinue to suf­fer,” Lam­per­son said.

The Crown had asked for a three- to five-year pri­son sen­tence, while Fen­ton’s lawyer said a three-year sen­tence would be more ap­pro­pri­ate.

The judge said a three-year sen­tence would fall short of what was needed in this case.

Crown at­tor­ney Tim Stokes told the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing that Fen­ton’s re­morse was a mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor but the court must con­sider he orig­i­nally de­nied drink­ing the day of the crash and did not im­me­di­ately ad­mit he has an is­sue with al­co­hol.

“We know that’s clearly wrong,” said Stokes. “There’s a ques­tion to Mr. Fen­ton’s cred­i­bil­ity. He clearly does have a strug­gle with al­co­hol.”

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