A former B.C. RCMP officer who previously pleaded guilty to one count of breach of trust for pursuing sexual relationships while on duty has received a nine-month conditional sentence.
Brian Burkett, a former constable in Kelowna, was originally charged with seven counts of breach of trust.
The BC Prosecution Service stated the charges involved allegations of misconduct against seven individuals between October 2015 and August 2016. Crown counsel condensed the women’s accusations into a single charge following a plea deal.
During Tuesday’s sentencing in B.C. Supreme Court, the judge allowed Burkett to serve his sentence in Alberta, where he lives and works.
Crown had been seeking a sentence of six months to a year behind bars, while defence was seeking a conditional sentence of six months to a year, which would be served in the community.
Judge Michelle Danyluk said Burkett exploited the vulnerability of women for personal gratification, and that he crossed a line not once, but seven times over a course of several months.
Danyluk said his actions impacted the reputation of the Kelowna detachment while also causing his victims to have a mistrust of authority.
The mitigating factors included his guilty plea; no prior criminal record; that he demonstrated remorse and awareness of the pain that he caused his victims; plus the loss of his career as a police officer.
In an interview earlier this year with Global News, an executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services believes Burkett should have had to face a breach of trust charge for each of the seven victims.
“It’s jarring to think that the Crown prosecutor would want to reduce the seven breach of trust charges down to one,” Angela Marie MacDougall said in June.
“It’s yet another example of the ways in which victims cannot trust the system, both in terms of policing in this case, but also the Crown prosecutor’s decisions,” she added.
More to come
— With files from Jules Knox