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RNC officer gets suspended sentence and probation for obstructing justice
Const. Joe Smyth has spent 18 years as an RNC officer, but whether or not he can keep his job and his pension is still in legal limbo.
Smyth was convicted a few months ago of obstructing justice and was given a suspended sentence with a year's probation Tuesday at provincial court in St. John's.
It means the 40-year-old will have a criminal record with probation conditions that include he keep the peace and be of good behaviour, notify the court of any change of address and undergo counselling recommended by his probation officer.
When The Telegram contacted the RNC following proceedings and inquired about Smyth's status as an officer, media relations officer Const. James Cadigan replied, "As this is still before the courts with the impending appeal, we will not be discussing the matter."
Smyth's lawyer, Jerome Kennedy, informed the judge last month prior to the start of the sentencing hearing that he had already appealed the guilty verdict. Arguments in the appeal are scheduled to be heard June 21 at Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.
RNC Chief Joe Boland had said in a statement to the media last year that once Smyth's court proceedings conclude, the RNC's professional standards section would conduct an investigation of its own.
Smyth has been suspended without pay since the summer of 2018, when he was formally charged as a result of an eight-month investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team - an outside, civilian-led agency that oversees serious cases involving police officers.
The charge stemmed from an incident May 12, 2017, when Smyth stopped a motorcycle on Torbay Road in St. John’s and issued the driver, Sayed Husaini, four traffic tickets, including one for running a red light. Footage from Husaini's Go-Pro camera revealed the light was actually green.
Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland had asked Judge Mike Madden to give Smyth a three-month conditional sentence. Kennedy suggested a discharge or suspended sentence.
In rendering his decision, Madden noted Smyth’s pre-sentence report indicated he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, flashbacks and insomnia, which have worsened since court proceedings began, according to his psychologist, Dr. Marina Hewlett.
Hewlett noted the PTSD was a result of an inquiry that had been held to examine what happened on Easter Sunday 2015, when Smyth shot and killed Don Dunphy at Dunphy’s home in Mitchell’s Brook. Smyth, who was a member of then-premier Paul Davis’s security team and was checking into a Tweet by Dunphy, was later cleared of wrongdoing in defending himself, but was the subject of public scrutiny.
“I do believe, as he says, his world has been turned upside down,” Madden said Tuesday.
He also noted Hewlett told the court that Smyth went back to work too soon after the inquiry, and without her knowledge.
Madden said jail time was not appropriate in the circumstances and went with the suspended sentence, reiterating Strickland's point that the case involved a loss of money (a fine to Husaini) and not a loss of his liberty.
Dunphy’s daughter, Meghan, and his brother, Bart Dunphy, were in the courtroom, as they have been through the entire proceedings. They opted not to be interviewed.
The Dunphy family filed a civil suit against Smyth, the RNC and the Justice Department on April 4, 2017. That case is still pending. St. John's lawyer Mike King is representing the family in the case.