Police officer convicted of dangerous driving for collision while speeding to emergency

Ontario criminal | Criminal Law

Offences

Dangerous driving causing bodily harm

Police officer convicted of dangerous driving for collision while speeding to emergency

Accused OPP constable responding to emergency call about serious motor vehicle accident entered small village, travelling at 178 km/h in 50 km/h zone, and entered intersection where he collided with complainant’s vehicle. Complainant suffered cracked ribs and concussion, and property damage resulting from collision was extensive. Accused was found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Trial judge found that accused’s conduct amounted to marked departure from standard of care of reasonable police officer. Accused fined $2,500. It was aggravating that accused, police officer sworn to uphold laws of province, committed criminal offence. Facts were also aggravating, given his extremely high rate of speed through village in mid-afternoon leading to collision causing bodily harm. It was accepted that accused was remorseful. Deterrent sentence must emphasize community disapproval of act and brand it reprehensible. Gravamen of offence was disregard for public safety. Accused’s motive being protection of public safety substantially mitigated his moral culpability. His act became criminal only because he responded in disproportionate manner. Sentence must attempt to balance accused’s level of culpability and need to denounce and deter with other relevant circumstances, including fact that complainant made illegal left turn into path of accused’s police vehicle. Accused did not need specific deterrence or rehabilitation. However, discharge sought by defence would be contrary to public interest as it would not satisfy general deterrence or denunciation. Proportionate sentence was $2,500 fine with appropriate surcharge and driving prohibition of 12 months.
R. v. Porto (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 4880, 2017 ONSC 733, Bruce Thomas J. (Ont. S.C.J.).

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