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RNC officer Joe Smyth gets suspended sentence, probation

RNC Const. Joe Smyth was back in provincial court in St. John’s today to be sentenced on a charge of obstructing justice.
RNC Const. Joe Smyth was back in provincial court in St. John’s today to be sentenced on a charge of obstructing justice. - Rosie Mullaley

The RNC officer who has been in the headlines for much of the last four years found out his legal fate this morning for obstructing justice.

Const. Joe Smyth was given a suspended sentence, with a year’s probation, at provincial court in St. John’s.

It means Smyth will have a criminal record and would be re-sentenced if he breaches conditions, which include that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour, notify the court of any change of address and that he undergo counselling recommended by his probation officer.

The 40-year-old, who sat with his wife, while looking tense, showed no emotion as Judge Mike Madden handed down the sentence.

Smyth quietly left the courtroom and met with his lawyer Jerome Kennedy in the waiting area before leaving. They turned down requests to speak to reporters.

Smyth was charged in relation to an incident that happened May 12, 2017, when he stopped a motorcycle on Torbay Road in the capital city 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.

The sentence was in keeping with what Kennedy had asked for. Kennedy had also said a discharge may be appropriate. Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland had suggested a three-month conditional sentence.

In rendering his decision, Madden noted that Smyth’s pre-sentence report indicated he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and insomnia, which have worsened since court proceedings began, according to his doctor. The doctor noted that 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 concerning Tweet by Dunphy, was later cleared of wrongdoing, but was the subject of public scrutiny.

“I do believe, as he says, his world has been turned upside down,” Madden said this morning.

The judge also noted the testimony of Smyth’s psychiatrist, who said Smyth went back to work too soon after the inquiry and without her knowledge.

Smyth, who is married with two young children, has been an RNC officer since 2001 and has been suspended without pay since last year. He’s facing the loss of his career and pension.

During the sentencing hearing, Strickland noted it was a Highway Traffic Act case, in which Husaini was not at risk of “losing his liberty.”

Madden agreed and said the suspended sentence with probation was appropriate.

But the case won’t end there, as Kennedy has already informed the judge that he has already appealed the guilty verdict. Arguments in the appeal is scheduled to be heard June 21 at Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.

The courtroom wasn’t as crowded with police officers as it had been during the trial.

Dunphy’s daughter Meghan and his brother Bart Dunphy were there, as they have been through the entire proceedings. They also opted not to be interviewed.


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