‘There’s something wrong here’: Husband furious as RCMP officer’s killer gets day parole
Just over two years after being sent to prison for killing West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett, Kenneth Fenton has been granted day parole for six months — something Beckett’s widower calls “disgusting.”
Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to four years behind bars for ramming his truck into Beckett’s police cruiser in Langford, B.C. in April 2016. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he ran a red light while fleeing police.
Beckett, an 11-year veteran of the force, left behind her husband Brad Aschenbrenner and two young boys.
Fenton was already granted limited day parole in January to attend alcohol abuse treatment, at a meeting Aschenbrenner said he wasn’t informed about beforehand.
Now, he says the latest decision to further extend that parole was made behind closed doors, after Fenton waived his right to a hearing.
That just makes Aschenbrenner more furious.
“To me, if any criminal wants to get out, he should have to face a parole board in person and the victim’s family, and he did not do that,” he said Friday, hours after being notified of the parole board’s decision.
WATCH: (Nov. 8, 2017) RCMP Constable Sarah Beckett’s killer sentenced to four years
Aschenbrenner says he was also not able to read out loud the victim impact statement he prepared for the hearing.
“[The parole board] read it, Fenton read it, but it’s different when you hear it in person versus you reading it,” he said. “So Sarah hasn’t had a voice.
“There’s something wrong here, and it’s not right, and it has to get fixed.”
In its decision, the parole board said Fenton had successfully completed the alcohol abuse treatment program and had made progress in prison.
The day parole comes with a long list of conditions, including restrictions from driving and using or purchasing drugs and alcohol.
Fenton is also forbidden from visiting any West Shore communities, including Sooke and Langford, and from contacting Beckett’s family, friends or co-workers.
Aschenbrenner says he’s been told Fenton’s day parole could start as soon as early next week, after a room is found for him at an Abbotsford halfway house.
He adds the release is another sign that Canada’s laws surrounding impaired driving causing death need to be changed.
WATCH: (July 7, 2017) Apology from the man who drove a pickup that killed a Mountie
“I don’t believe in Canada’s values anymore,” he said. “These are outdated laws.
“You look at something so simple, someone drunk behind the wheel, and you have an opportunity to make an example of somebody — especially someone who killed someone in the line of duty — and you don’t do it. Crown never did it, the judges never did it, the parole officers never did it, the parole hearings, none of it.
“I want Canada to stop saying sorry and do something,” he said later. “Knock on the door, make a difference. That’s what my boys need, and that’s what a lot of other people need going down the road.”
Aschenbrenner is hoping politicians at the provincial and federal levels of government see this case as the one that inspires change.
“I want John Horgan to respond to it,” he said. “I want all the MPs in these ridings around Sooke, around Victoria, I want them all to respond. I want them to tell me what their thoughts are. I want them to tell me the decision was right to release him. And tell me why.”
Fenton is also serving an additional 18-month prison sentence for an impaired crash that injured his girlfriend just weeks after the crash that killed Beckett.
Knowing that someone with such a extensive history of impaired and dangerous driving will soon be back out of prison is hard for Aschenbrenner to take.
“It’s raw every day, but the most important part is raising my boys the right way. That’s what keeps me going.”
The following is Brad Aschenbrenner’s full victim impact statement that he wasn’t able to read at the parole hearing followed by an additional amendment. This statement appears in its original form and has not been edited:
I am writing to you regarding concerns I have about the conditional release of Kenneth Fenton for day parole or full parole. I initially addressed the emotional impact that his reckless actions have had on my life and the lives of my two young children in a letter to you dated May 25, 2018. My concerns regarding an early release for this offender have remained unchanged, and are indeed strengthened in light of the new and considerably stronger penalties for drinking and driving.
Federal statistics show that in 2017 there were more than 69,000 police-reported impaired driving incidents and in 2016, there were more than 70,000 such incidents. An average of almost four people die in Canada every day due to impaired driving; these deaths are 100 percent preventable.
According to the Government of Canada website, under the Justice Department section, “The Government has committed to creating new and stronger laws to combat [impaired driving]. On April 13, 2017, the Government therefore introduced Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Bill C-46 creates an impaired driving regime that would be amongst the strongest in the world.”
Under the new Bill C-46, “The maximum penalties for impaired driving [have] increased in cases where there is no injury or death, to two years less a day on summary conviction (up from 18 months), and to 10 years on indictment (up from 5 years).
Offences causing bodily harm would become hybrid offences allowing the Crown to decide whether to proceed summarily where the injuries are less severe (for example, a broken arm). (Summary conviction for less severe injuries carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 14 years imprisonment.)
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death has increased to life imprisonment (up from 14 years). This is consistent with the maximum penalty for other transportation offences involving death.”
As mentioned in my previous letter, on May 22, 2016, roughly 5 weeks after the offender killed Constable Beckett, the public record shows that he was charged with another accident resulting in bodily harm, impaired driving causing bodily harm, flight from police causing bodily harm or death, and a DUI. The May 22, 2016 incident was unfortunately not the offender’s second offense involving being intoxicated while driving, fleeing from police in the process, and/or injuring or killing someone. It was his fifth such incident.
If this repeat offender had been held accountable for his irresponsible and selfish actions dating all the way back to 2010 as per the harsher penalties outlined in Bill C-46 my wife and the mother of our two young children would almost certainly still be alive and continuing to protect the citizens of this community. In the unlikely event harsher consequences had not prevented him from repeatedly driving while impaired he very well could be serving a life sentence rather than the four short years he was given. That he is requesting an early release is consistent with his disturbingly instrumental behaviour all along (numerous examples were raised by the Parole Board during the previous January 22 hearing). I respectfully request that you honour the spirit of Bill C-46 in its attempt to prevent unnecessary and preventable deaths at the hands of people like this, and deny him early release. That said, whenever it is the offender is released I request a no contact condition as well as a no-go condition to the West Shore area (Colwood, Metchosin, Langford, and Sooke) due to the proximity of his family’s business and my daily travels.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
My regards, Bradley Aschenbrenner
“This criminal and his lawyer purposely lied and misled the judge about his drinking problem stating that he was a “weekend warrior” (obviously not the case).
When you look back at his driving record as stated by his lawyer you see that all but one of the incidents involved drinking and driving. Meaning if this judicial system would have done their jobs he would have had 3 dui and one flight from police even before killing my wife. He fled from the police killing my wife while under the influence of cocaine and alcohol (this would have been his fourth dui and his second flight from police convictions). Six weeks later he was back at it again. Only after all of this he was given two DUI’s and one flight from police conviction.
The judge stated that with a BAC of 0.278 someone would be slobbering drunk and unable to function yet this criminal was out operating a vehicle.
He has yet to accept responsibility of his actions only to blame them on his friends suicides and his grandparents alcoholism.
I’d like to know why Canada has not made an example of him considering the circumstances killing an RCMP officer in the line of duty. Four years? This is the standards for common day law? To me this is outdated and a down right embarrassment.
When it comes to backing the men and women who serve their country, it should be the courts that stand behind them and even more so in this case. Crown council failed Sarah and her fellow members. The judges failed Sarah. These are not values I believe in.
This is extremely difficult for me also considering I wasn’t notified of the previous parole hearing. Sarah did not have a voice that day. I am here today for her and I will continue to be her voice.
I don’t understand why he has the right to know everything I am going to say in order to be “prepared” for what’s coming when nothing in a million years could have prepared me for what his actions did to my life. The fact that he has the right to appeal an unfavorable decision if I deviate from my script shows me that the system is more interested in protecting the criminal than allowing the victims family (me) to say what I feel I need to say. Have I been given the script of what everyone here is going to say today? No, but I’m supposed to come up with an appropriate response to you? It doesn’t make sense.
This did not only affect me, my boys, my family, it have completely torn apart the West Shore detachment. Especially when the courts have failed them up to this point.
Driving through that intersection reliving the video of the first responders pulling my wife’s broken body from her cruiser is unbearable. How do you think all the other first responders think driving through that intersection? And they have to do it every day.
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