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Former Newfoundland RCMP officer who assaulted ex-girlfriend loses appeal

Cameron Lockhart may have been convicted of only one out of eight counts, but it's enough to ruin his career as an RCMP officer, according to his lawyer.
Cameron Lockhart. - Rosie Mullaley file photo/The Telegram

An RCMP officer found guilty last year of assaulting his ex-girlfriend has lost his appeal to have the conviction overturned.

Cameron D. Lockhart said the charge against him should have been stayed because the actions of the RCMP, when it came to the investigation and disclosure of information for trial, amounted to an abuse of process.

Lockhart received a 14-day conditional sentence and a year of probation after he was convicted by a jury last March of assaulting the woman eight years earlier.

The court heard that Lockhart, who was stationed at the Harbour Grace RCMP detachment at the time, had been on duty but home on a break when he and his then-girlfriend got into an argument over her decision to attend a bachelorette party. Lockhart pushed her over a couch and smacked her in the face, causing her earring to cut her.

Lockhart's employment with the RCMP ended on Sept. 21, 2017, according to the RCMP.

Lockhart had originally been charged with a number of offences involving two women, but was acquitted of all but one count of assault.

In preparing for trial, Lockhart had applied for an order for disclosure, since he wasn't convinced he had received all the information. Specifically, he was looking for documents related to an internal investigation by the RCMP into his conduct from 2012 to 2014.

The police argued that this was third-party information, but the judge at that time ruled it was not, since it was information directly about Lockhart. She said it was relevant to Lockhart's criminal charges and involved witnesses in the proceedings, and ordered it disclosed to Lockhart.

The judge agreed with Lockhart's claim that the delay in providing the disclosure was a breach of his rights, but did not believe there was any abuse of process. She dismissed Lockhart's application for a stay of proceedings, saying it wasn't justified.

The Court of Appeal panel agreed with the original judge on some points, but said she had made a mistake in determining that Lockhart's rights had been breached.

The panel also dismissed Lockhart's claim that the RCMP laid charges against him in an effort to have him dismissed from the force, and his claim that police would not have contacted his ex-girlfriends, leading to the criminal charges, without the internal investigation into his conduct.

"While this is true, in a given situation, the police may pursue investigations for a variety of reason," the court of appeal decision states, saying conduct of police officers may come under greater scrutiny, especially in the case of domestic abuse. "Not only is a certain standard expected of members of a police force in this context, but there may be a reluctance by victims to come forward with complaints where the allegation will be investigated by other police officers."

The court of appeal found there was no basis on which to conclude that the original judge had erred in refusing to stay Lockhart's charges on the basis of an abuse of process by police.

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