Const. Sarah Beckett, a 32-year-old mother of two, died when her car was struck by a pickup truck at Peatt Road and Goldstream Avenue in Langford.  

Flanked by about a dozen West Shore RCMP officers, the husband of Const. Sarah Beckett sat grimly through the first brief court hearing for the man accused of causing her death.

Beckett, a 32-year-old mother of two, died in the early morning of April 5, 2016 after her police car was struck by a pickup truck at Peatt Road and Goldstream Avenue in Langford.

The accused man, Kenneth Jacob Fenton, 28, did not appear in person Thursday morning.

Fenton is charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, flight from police causing death, driving with blood alcohol over .08 and refusing to provide a blood sample to police.

Victoria lawyer Dale Marshall, who is representing Fenton, asked the court for an adjournment until Feb. 9 to allow him to review the report of the incident conducted by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

IIO lawyer Martin Allen told Judge Parker MacCarthy the investigation will be completed within the next two or three days.

“I am of the opinion that the IIO has material that could be relevant and needs to be reviewed before an election is made and a plea entered,” Marshall said. “We have to review all the disclosure before we settle with the Crown how this is going to proceed.”

Fenton is entitled to full disclosure before he chooses whether to be tried by judge and jury or judge alone, Marshall said.

“That’s the law and that’s expected. And, as of right now, there’s a parallel investigation that I say is relevant.”

Const. Jonathan McKinney was one of three officers who escorted Beckett’s husband, Brad Aschenbrenner, into Western Communities courthouse.

“I know he would like an opportunity to speak to people about what’s gone on, but he’s nowhere near ready for that now,” McKinney said. “It’s an emotional time for everyone. It’s a difficult time for everyone. These court dates are sensitive, and we’re looking forward to moving toward some closure.”

The date of Fenton’s first court appearance has already been delayed four times.

“I’m sure it’s very difficult for everybody involved in the matter,” Marshall said. “You can imagine how difficult it is to get through the material. It took six months to investigate. There’s a lot of material.”

Asked how his client is doing, Marshall replied: “As you can imagine, everybody that’s touched by this is struggling. It’s difficult for everybody.”

Allen said he doesn’t expect to attend any future court appearances. “The IIO’s mandate is to investigate any police-involved incident and whether an offence may have been committed by an officer. And I should be clear: We are not investigating the actions of Const. Beckett,” Allen said.

When the IIO completes its investigation, the chief civilian director will decide quickly if an officer has committed an offence, Allen said. A decision is expected to be announced next week or the week after, he said.

If the director finds no offence has been committed, a detailed public report will be issued exonerating the officer or officers. Public reports contain all the evidence and how it was analyzed, Allen said.

If the director finds an officer may have committed an offence, the matter will be referred to the Crown for charges. If that is the case, the IIO will issue a limited statement, Allen said. “As soon as our investigation is complete, we will be in a position to disclose our investigative material. Anything that can be disclosed will go to Mr. Fenton,” he said.

Fenton was taken into custody shortly after the crash. He was released the next day without being charged.

On Sept. 14, Fenton was charged and released on an undertaking with conditions to remain in B.C. and surrender his passport. He was also ordered to abstain from alcohol or drugs, except with a medical prescription.

Source: Times Colonist


Last updated on: 2017-04-02 | Link to this post