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

FILE PHOTO - An investigator examines the scene of the crash involving a police car and a pickup truck in Langford, B.C., Tuesday, April 5, 2016. RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett was killed in the crash.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
July 14, 2017 - 11:48 AM

COLWOOD, B.C. - 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 four-year 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-year-old 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.''

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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