RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett.

The court appearance for the man charged with impaired driving in connection with the death of West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett has been adjourned until March 9.



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

Kenneth Jacob Fenton, 28, has been charged with impaired driving causing her 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. He was expected to appear in Western Communities provincial court on Thursday.

On Tuesday, defence lawyer Dale Marshall said the appearance had been adjourned until March 9 to allow him time to review a report from the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

Marshall said he received the report on Monday. “It appears to be more than 4,000 pages,” he said. “My partner, Chris Massey, and I need to review it and meet with our client, then meet with Crown before a decision is made on how to proceed.”

Fenton can choose to be tried in B.C. Supreme Court by judge alone or by judge and jury. If he chooses to be tried in provincial court, he must enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty at his next court appearance.

Last week, the IIO said it had filed a report to Crown counsel “for consideration of charges” in connection with the fatal crash.

According to a statement from the office, another RCMP officer tried to pull over the pickup truck before the collision. The driver of the truck did not stop and collided with Beckett’s police car in the intersection, killing her.

The IIO’s investigation focused on the actions of that RCMP officer, the circumstances surrounding the collision and the subsequent information provided to the RCMP by the officer.

After reviewing the investigation, the office’s chief civilian director forwarded a report to the Crown.

“This is required when the director considers that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment,” the statement said.

The RCMP notified the IIO of the collision, but an investigation was not launched until 10 days after Beckett’s death. On April 15, the office announced it would be conducting an independent investigate on because it had received information that an officer had tried to stop the suspect vehicle before the crash.

The IIO said that its threshold for referral to the Crown is lower than other law enforcement agencies in B.C.

Jurisdiction over charge assessment and charge approval rests with the Criminal Justice Branch.

Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the branch, said it’s not possible to speculate on potential charges or estimate how long the process will take.

When a decision is reached, the Criminal Justice Branch will provide a public statement on its conclusion, he said.

In approving charges, the Crown must be satisfied not only that an offence may have been committed, but that the commission of an offence can be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt. There must also be substantial likelihood of conviction and prosecution must be in the public interest.

West Shore RCMP are not commenting on the case.

“We’re not providing any comments on any other agency’s investigation, and that includes the IIO,” said Const. Alex Bérubé, spokesman for West Shore RCMP. “It would not be responsible for us to comment on that.”

Source: Times Colonist


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